Flavonoids are polyphenolic antioxidants naturally present in vegetables, fruits, and beverages such as tea and wine. In vitro, flavonoids inhibit oxidation of low-density lipoprotein and reduce thrombotic tendency, but their effects on atherosclerotic complications in human beings are unknown. We measured the content in various foods of the flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, apigenin, and luteolin. We then assessed the flavonoid intake of 805 men aged 65-84 years in 1985 by a cross-check dietary history; the men were then followed up for 5 years. Mean baseline flavonoid intake was 25.9 mg daily. The major sources of intake were tea (61%), onions (13%), and apples (10%). Between 1985 and 1990, 43 men died of coronary heart disease. Fatal or non-fatal myocardial infarction occurred in 38 of 693 men with no history of myocardial infarction at baseline. Flavonoid intake (analysed in tertiles) was significantly inversely associated with mortality from coronary heart disease (p for trend = 0.015) and showed an inverse relation with incidence of myocardial infarction, which was of borderline significance (p for trend = 0.08). The relative risk of coronary heart disease mortality in the highest versus the lowest tertile of flavonoid intake was 0.42 (95% CI 0.20-0.88). After adjustment for age, body-mass index, smoking, serum total and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure, physical activity, coffee consumption, and intake of energy, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and dietary fibre, the risk was still significant (0.32 [0.15-0.71]). Intakes of tea, onions, and apples were also inversely related to coronary heart disease mortality, but these associations were weaker. Flavonoids in regularly consumed foods may reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease in elderly men.