Concentrations of total cholesterol and cholesterol in the various lipoprotein fractions were measured in vegans, vegetarians, fish eaters (who did not eat meat), and meat eaters. Total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations were higher in meat eaters than vegans, with vegetarians and fish eaters having intermediate and similar values. High density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration was highest in the fish eaters but did not differ among the other groups. There were striking trends with age in total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, which differed between men and women: women showed a steady increase in concentration with age, whereas concentrations in men did not increase appreciably after the age of 40, which may partly explain sex differences in the prevalence of coronary heart disease. The differences in total cholesterol concentration suggest that the incidence of coronary heart disease may be 24% lower in lifelong British vegetarians and 57% lower in lifelong vegans than in meat eaters.