In an effort to dissect the genetic components of longevity, we have undertaken case-control studies of populations of centenarians (n = 338) and adults aged 20-70 years at several polymorphic candidate gene loci. Here we report results on two genes, chosen for their impact on cardiovascular risk, encoding apolipoprotein E (ApoE), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). We find that the epsilon 4 allele of APOE, which promotes premature atherosclerosis, is significantly less frequent in centenarians than in controls (p < 0.001), while the frequency of the epsilon 2 allele, associated previously with type III and IV hyperlipidemia, is significantly increased (p < 0.01). A variant of ACE which predisposes to coronary heart disease is surprisingly more frequent in centenarians, with a significant increase of the homozygous genotype (p < 0.01). These associations provide examples of genetic influences on differential survival and may point to pleiotropic age-dependent effects on longevity.