The WHO MONICA project monitors trends and determinants in cardiovascular disease to relate classical risk factor changes to trends in incidence rates. The Belfast and Toulouse MONICA centres have also collaborated in dietary studies. Both centres have validated incidence and attack rates for ischaemic heart disease using coronary event registration. These data confirm that the disease in middle-aged men is between three and four times as common in Belfast as in Toulouse. Risk factor surveys show some differences between the centres, but the overall risks assessed by two multiple logistic function scoring systems were identical. A weighed dietary survey revealed no important difference in macronutrient intake, although carbohydrate and saturated fat intake in Belfast was significantly higher. Protein, dietary cholesterol and polyunsaturated fat, particularly linoleic acid intake, was significantly higher in Toulouse, as was consumption of wine, cheese, fruit and vegetables, but not potatoes. The Northern Irish diet is typically Northern European, but although the diet in Toulouse has some features of the Mediterranean diet, it is not appreciably different from that in Belfast in terms of total fat intake. Major differences are present for several food items, and in general these differences add support to the antioxidant hypothesis.