BACKGROUND: High plasma lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] level is a strong and important risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Small-sized apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)] isoforms (F, B, S1, and S2) are inversely correlated with the high levels of Lp(a) in plasma and significantly associated with CVD. Although the effects of apo(a) phenotypes and various risk factors on Lp(a) status in South Asian population may have been studied in other countries, there are no reports involving these risk factors in Australia. METHODS AND RESULTS: Factors contributing to variation in Lp(a) were surveyed in 402 (216 males and 186 females) South Asian Melburnians. There was a negative relationship between low alcohol beer per day and Lp(a) in men (P < 0.05). Approximately 21% of the variance of Lp(a) concentration in men and 6% in women were explained by age. Age was positively associated with Lp(a) concentrations in men but negatively in women. The most commonly occurring phenotype was apo(a) S3. In this phenotype, Lp(a) concentrations ranged from non-detectable to 811 mg/l. After adjusting for age, an inverse correlation was observed between Lp(a) concentration and apo(a) phenotypes (P < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Although Lp(a) has been reported to be genetically determined, there are clearly other factors contributing to variations in Lp(a) concentrations in a South Asian population.