Dietary isomeric trans fatty acids-mainly produced by hydrogenation of oils-are suspected of increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. Dietary trans fatty acid intake is reflected in the fatty acid composition of adipose tissue. In an international multicentre study in eight European countries and Israel (EURAMIC), adipose tissue aspiration samples were obtained from 671 men with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), aged 70 years or less, and 717 men without a history of AMI (controls). The proportion of fatty acids, including isomeric trans monoenoic fatty acids with 18 carbon atoms (C18:1), was determined by gas chromatography. Although there were considerable differences between countries in mean (SD) proportion of adipose tissue C18:1 trans fatty acids, there was no overall difference between cases (1.61 [0.92]%) and the controls (1.57 [0.86]%). The risk of AMI did not differ significantly from 1.0 over quartiles of adipose C18:1 trans fatty acids: the multivariate odds ratio was 0.97 (95% CI 0.56-1.67) for the highest versus lowest quartile. After exclusion of subjects from Spanish centres because they had far lower proportions of adipose trans fatty acids than subjects from other countries, there was a tendency to increased risk of AMI in the upper quartiles of C18:1 trans; however, the trend was not statistically significant. Our results reflect considerable differences between countries in dietary intake of trans fatty acids but do not suggest a major overall effect of C18:1 trans fatty acids on risk of AMI. We cannot exclude the possibility that trans fatty acids have a significant impact on risk of AMI in populations with high intake.