A series of thirty-three Venezuelan men with premature myocardial infarction (mean age (M +/- SEM) 45 +/- 1.5 yrs) and with greater than 50% occlusion of at least 2 coronary arteries, and 19 weight matched control men (age 44 +/- 2 yrs) with normal coronary arteries on coronary angiography were studied. The percentages of significantly abnormal (greater than +/- 2 S.D. of controls) serum or plasma concentrations of various measurements (in decreasing order) were: estradiol (33%), total apolipoprotein (apo)B (24%), estradiol/testosterone ratio (21%), low density lipoprotein (LDL) apo B (19%), apo AI (17%), apo AI/total plasma apo B ratio (17%), total cholesterol (17%), and LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) (11%). In addition, a multivariate discriminant function analysis showed that only estradiol, apo AI, LDL-C, estradiol/testosterone ratio and total cholesterol were statistically significant independent markers of myocardial infarction with occlusive coronary disease in these patients. Both serum estradiol and estradiol/testosterone ratio correlated positively with plasma apo B and LDL apo B, and inversely with apo AI; serum testosterone correlated inversely with plasma apo B (p less than 0.05). The data suggest that circulating sex hormones (estrogens, testosterone) are not only independent markers of coronary disease but may be pathogenetically linked to apo B and apo AI metabolism.