The relation of intakes of specific fatty acids and the risk of coronary heart disease was examined in a cohort of 21,930 smoking men aged 50-69 years who were initially free of diagnosed cardiovascular disease. All men participated in the Finnish Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study and completed a detailed and validated dietary questionnaire at baseline. After 6.1 years of follow-up from 1985-1988, the authors documented 1,399 major coronary events and 635 coronary deaths. After controlling for age, supplement group, several coronary risk factors, total energy, and fiber intake, the authors observed a significant positive association between the intake of trans-fatty acids and the risk of coronary death. For men in the top quintile of trans-fatty acid intake (median = 6.2 g/day), the multivariate relative risk of coronary death was 1.39 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09-1.78) (p for trend = 0.004) as compared with men in the lowest quintile of intake (median = 1.3 g/day). The intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish was also directly related to the risk of coronary death in the multivariate model adjusting also for trans-saturated and cis-monounsaturated fatty acids (relative risk (RR) = 1.30, 95% CI 1.01-1.67) (p for trend = 0.06 for men in the highest quintile of intake compared with the lowest). There was no association between intakes of saturated or cis-monounsaturated fatty acids, linoleic or linolenic acid, or dietary cholesterol and the risk of coronary deaths. All the associations were similar but somewhat weaker for all major coronary events.