The effect of an eicosapentaenoic acid-rich encapsulated preparation of fish oil on the incidence of early restenosis after coronary angioplasty was assessed by a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. A total of 108 patients received either 10 capsules of fish oil (1.8 g eicosapentaenoic acid, 1.2 g docosahexaenoic acid) or 10 control capsules (50% olive oil, 50% corn oil), commencing the day before angioplasty and continuing for 4 months after angioplasty, in addition to treatment with aspirin and verapamil. In 101 (94%) of the 108 patients, follow-up angiographic or postmortem result was evaluated at a mean (+/- SD) of 100 (+/- 22) days. Angiographic restenosis was observed in 34% of patients (29% of lesions) in the fish oil-treated group and 33% of patients (31% of lesions) in the control group (no significant difference). The overall incidence of angiographic restenosis was significantly higher in patients with 1) recurrent angina pectoris, 2) a positive exercise test at follow-up after angioplasty, 3) residual stenosis greater than 30% immediately after angioplasty, and 4) dilation of the left anterior descending or right coronary artery. Biochemical investigations showed a greater decrease in the serum triglyceride levels in the fish oil-treated group versus the control group (p less than 0.05) but no differences between the two groups in cholesterol levels or platelet counts over the 4 month period. In conclusion, in this study, the administration of fish oil at a dose of 10 capsules/day did not reduce the incidence of early restenosis after coronary angioplasty.