The relation between central adiposity, measured by the waist/hip circumference ratio (WHR), and 4-year risk of fatal coronary artery disease was examined in a large cohort (n = 32,898) of women aged 55 to 69 years. The age-adjusted relative risk of death from coronary artery disease (115 deaths) was 3.3 for women in the highest tertile of WHR compared to the lowest tertile (95% confidence interval: 2.0, 5.6). After adjustment for age, body mass, smoking, physical activity, estrogen use, marital status, and alcohol intake, the relative risk of coronary death for women in the middle and highest tertiles versus those in the lowest tertile of WHR were 1.3 and 2.8, respectively (P for linear trend < 0.001). Further adjustment for hypertension and diabetes mellitus reduced the estimates slightly to 1.2 and 2.0, but the trend in relative risk remained statistically significant (P = 0.03). In contrast, body mass index showed no independent association with coronary death. Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoking, estrogen nonuse, and being unmarried were significant predictors of greater risk of coronary death in the multivariate model. These results indicate that central adiposity, reflected by an increased WHR, is an important risk factor for death from coronary artery disease in women, most of whom were postmenopausal. The association of central adiposity with risk of coronary death is independent, for the most part, of its association with hypertension and diabetes.