To investigate whether greater intakes of calcium, vitamin D, or milk products may protect against ischemic heart disease mortality, the authors analyzed data from a prospective cohort study of 34,486 postmenopausal Iowa women 55-69 years old and without a history of ischemic heart disease who completed a dietary questionnaire in 1986. Through 1994, 387 deaths due to ischemic heart disease were documented (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, codes 410-414, 429.2). The multivariate-adjusted relative risks for the highest versus the lowest quartiles of total calcium, vitamin D, and milk product intakes were as follows: 0.67 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.47-0.94; p for trend = 0.09) for calcium, 1.41 (95% CI 0.93-2.15; p for trend = 0.12) for vitamin D, and 0.94 (95% CI 0.66-1.35; p for trend = 0.68) for milk products. The relative risk was 0.63 (95% CI 0.40-0.98) for high dietary calcium but no supplemental calcium intake and 0.66 (95% CI 0.36-1.23) for high supplemental calcium but low dietary calcium intake. These results suggest that a higher intake of calcium, but not of vitamin D or milk products, is associated with reduced ischemic heart disease mortality in postmenopausal women, and reduced risk may be achievable whether the higher intake of calcium is attained by diet, supplements, or both.