Coronary heart disease is a leading cause of death for both sexes in developed countries. Controversy has arisen about the health benefits and risks of coronary surgery and, more recently of coronary angioplasty. As a clinical prerequisite to these interventions, coronary arteriography can be considered an indicator of invasive services offered to coronary heart disease patients. We collected data on characteristics of all patients subjected to coronary arteriography during 1984 in Switzerland. A total of 4921 coronary arteriographies were performed among 4359 patients; this corresponds to 77 procedures/100,000 residents and 68 patients/100,000 residents. Rates for men are 4.2 times women's rates, and the highest utilization rate for both sexes are observed in the group aged 40-64. Large variations characterize cantonal and regional coronary arteriography rates. Similarly, the distribution of centers practising this procedure is not uniform. These observations are placed in the context of the general practice of coronary angiography, changes expected in the face of by-pass surgery and angioplasty expansion, and coronary heart disease data.