A multicenter case-control study was conducted to evaluate the relations between antioxidant status assessed by biomarkers and acute myocardial infarction. Incidence cases and frequency matched controls were recruited from 10 European countries to maximize the variance in exposure within the study. Adipose tissue needle aspiration biopsies were taken shortly after the infarction and analyzed for levels of carotenoids and tocopherols. An examination of colinearity including all covariates and the three carotenoids, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene, showed that the variables were sufficiently independent to model simultaneously. When examined singularly, each of the carotenoids appeared to be protective. Upon simultaneous analyses of the carotenoids, however, using conditional logistic regression models that controlled for age, body mass index, socioeconomic status, smoking, hypertension, and maternal and paternal history of disease, lycopene remained independently protective, with an odds ratio of 0.52 for the contrast of the 10th and 90th percentiles (95% confidence interval 0.33-0.82, p = 0.005). The associations for alpha- and beta-carotene were largely eliminated. We conclude that lycopene, or some substance highly correlated which is in a common food source, may contribute to the protective effect of vegetable consumption on myocardial infarction risk.