The objective of this study was to assess the validity of a self-reported history of doctor-diagnosed angina in population-based studies in men. Subjects were 5789 men from the British Regional Heart Study who reported being without an angina diagnosis at entry (1978-1980) and were alive at the end of 1992, aged 52 to 75 years. In 1992, subjects were asked in a self-administered questionnaire if they recalled ever having had a doctor diagnosis of angina. Self-report of diagnosed angina was compared with general practice (GP) record of angina obtained from reviews of medical records from study entry to the end of 1992. Men were followed for a further 3 years from 1992 for major ischemic heart disease events. The prevalence of diagnosed angina in 1992 was 10.1% according to self-reported history and 8.9% according to GP record review. There was substantial agreement between the two sources of information: 80% of men with a GP record of angina reported their diagnosis, and 70% of men who reported an angina diagnosis had confirmation of this from the record review. When all ischemic heart disease (angina or myocardial infarction) was considered, agreement was higher. Genuine angina was likely in many of the 177 men who had self-reported angina not confirmed by the GP record review: 78 had an ischemic heart disease history (myocardial infarction or coronary revascularization) identified by the review, and 31 had a GP record of angina after 1992. Angina symptoms, nitrate use, cardiological investigation, and surgical intervention for angina compared between agreement groups showed a very consistent pattern. All these indicators of angina were most common in men with both self-report and GP record of angina, least common in men with neither self-report nor GP record of angina, but had a substantially higher prevalence in men with self-reported angina only than in those with GP-recorded angina only. After 3 years follow-up from 1992, 9.5% of men with both self-report and GP record of angina, and 11.3% of men with self-reported angina only had experienced a new major ischemic heart disease event; compared to 5.7% of men with a GP record of angina only and 2.7% of those without angina by either criteria. This pattern of risk remained similar after adjustment for age and previous myocardial infarction. These results suggest that self-reported history of a doctor diagnosis of angina is a valid measure of diagnosed angina in population-based studies in men.