OBJECTIVE: To assess the association of dietary flavonol intake with the subsequent risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality. DESIGN: Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies published before September 2001. Studies were identified by MEDLINE and EMBASE searches and by scanning relevant reference lists. The following information was extracted from published reports: size of cohort, mean age, mean duration of follow-up, number of fatal CHD events, mean flavonol intake, main sources of flavonol intake, degree of adjustment for potential confounders, and the relation of CHD mortality to dietary flavonol intake measured at baseline. RESULTS: Seven prospective cohorts of men and women were identified including a total of 2087 fatal CHD events. Comparison of individuals in the top third with those in the bottom third of dietary flavonol intake yielded a combined risk ratio of 0.80 (95% CI 0.69-0.93) after adjustment for known CHD risk factors and other dietary components. CONCLUSION: This overview of prospective cohort studies indicates that high dietary intake of flavonols from a small number of fruits and vegetables, tea and red wine may be associated with a reduced risk from CHD mortality in free-living populations.