Chlamydia pneumoniae is a human respiratory pathogen that causes acute respiratory disease and approximately 10% of community-acquired pneumonia. The infections are geographically widespread. Antibody prevalence studies have shown that virtually everyone is infected with the C. pneumoniae organisms at some time and that reinfection is common. In addition to respiratory disease, seroepidemiologic studies have shown an association of this organism with coronary artery disease. C. pneumoniae was detected in coronary artery atheromas by immunocytochemistry (15/36) and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (13/30) in 20 of 36 autopsy cases from Johannesburg, South Africa. Sequence analysis of the C. pneumoniae rRNA genes amplified by PCR confirmed that the amplified gene products were C. pneumoniae. Electron microscopy revealed typical pear-shaped C. pneumoniae elementary bodies in 6 of 21 atheromatous plaques. These findings support the seroepidemiologic studies and offer further evidence that C. pneumoniae may be involved in the atherosclerotic process.