There are approximately 20,000 excess deaths from cardiovascular disease each winter in England and Wales. The reasons for the excess have not been fully elucidated. For one year, we studied 96 men and women aged 65-74 living in their own homes in order to examine seasonal variation in plasma fibrinogen and factor VII clotting activity (FVIIc), and to investigate relationships with infection and other cardiovascular-disease risk factors. Both fibrinogen and FVIIc plasma values were greater in winter with estimated winter-summer differences (confidence intervals) of 0.13 (0.05-0.20) g/L for fibrinogen and 4.2 (1.2-7.1)% of standard for FVIIc. These differences could account for 15% and 9% increases in ischaemic heart disease risk in winter respectively. After adjustment for confounding by season, fibrinogen was strongly related to neutrophil count (p < 0.0001), C-reactive protein (p < 0.0001), alpha 1-antichymotrypsin (p < 0.0001), and self-reported cough (p < 0.0001) and coryza (p = 0.0004), but not to ambient temperature. Therefore, we suggest that seasonal variation in fibrinogen might be induced by winter respiratory infections via activation of the acute phase response. Seasonal variations in the cardiovascular risk factors fibrinogen and FVIIc provide further possible explanations for the marked seasonal variation in death from ischaemic heart disease and stroke in the elderly.