To determine the association between intake of dietary fat, specifically Indian ghee, and prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD) and risk factors as study was undertaken on a rural population in Rajasthan. Total community cross-sectional survey was done using a physician administered questionnaire; 1982 males aged 20 years and more were studied. The dietary questionnaire focused on the amount and type of fat consumed. Staple dietary fat in this area is mustard/rapeseed oil and Indian ghee. To define the role of ghee, the average amount consumed in a month was determined; 782 males (39%) consumed 1 kg or more ghee per month (group 1) and 1200 (61%) consumed less than 1 kg per month (group 2). To elicit details of fatty acid composition of the diet consumed, detailed dietary history was acquired from a random 460 (23%) males; 220 from group 1 and 240 from group 2. Group 1 males were significantly younger, more literate and had more weight and body-mass index. This group consumed significantly more calories, saturated and mono-unsaturated fats while the consumption of polyunsaturated fats was similar in the two groups. Fatty acid intake analysis showed that group 1 males consumed more mono-unsaturated (n-9) fatty acids than group 2. Intake of polyunsaturated n-3 and n-6 fatty acids was similar. There was significantly lower prevalence of CHD in men who consumed > kg ghee per month (odds ratio = 0.23, 95% confidence limits 0.18-0.30, p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis confirmed this association (p < 0.001). The prevalence of hypertension and other coronary risk factors was similar in the two groups.