Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at risk of increased prevalence of coronary heart disease. In general, the plasma level of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) correlates with the risk of incidence of ischemic heart disease. The levels of total, HDL, low density (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides were measured in sera of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and in healthy controls. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis (26 men and 103 women), the serum total and LDL cholesterol were higher, whereas the HDL cholesterol and triglycerides were lower (p less than 0.001) compared to the values observed in controls (625 men and 749 women). Similar patterns were seen when results of age and sex matched controls were compared to the results of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The lipid parameters of patients with rheumatoid arthritis were not different when the patients were treated with steroidal or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.