Endothelium-dependent vasodilatation is mediated by release of nitric oxide formed by constitutively expressed endothelial nitric oxide synthase (ecNOS). We explored the distribution of polymorphism ecNOS4a/b in 549 subjects with, and 153 without, coronary artery disease in relation to smoking. In current and ex-cigarette smokers, but not nonsmokers, there was a significant excess of homozygotes for the rare ecNOS4a allele in patients with severely stenosed arteries, compared with those with no or mild stenosis. This genotype was also associated with a history of myocardial infarction. This smoking-dependent excess coronary risk in ecNOS4a homozygotes is consistent with predisposition to endothelial dysfunction.