Fasting plasma total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol and total triglyceride was measured in 682 university students with a positive paternal history of coronary heart disease before the age of 55 years and 1312 age- and sex-matched controls recruited from 14 European centres. In male subjects, significant regional differences were observed for triglyceride (P < 0.005) and HDL-cholesterol (P < 0.05) but not for total or LDL-cholesterol. In female subjects, significant regional differences were observed for triglyceride (P < 0.05) and cholesterol (P < 0.05) but not for HDL- or LDL-cholesterol. Significant differences were observed between male cases and controls for cholesterol (P < 0.005) LDL-cholesterol (P < 0.005) and triglycerides (P < 0.005) but not for HDL-cholesterol. In females a significant difference was observed between cases and controls for LDL-cholesterol (P < 0.05) but not for total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol or triglyceride.