OBJECTIVE: Abundant evidence supports the central role of inflammatory cytokines in immune responses mediating the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and its complications, such as myocardial infarction and unstable angina. METHODS: We investigated the association of genetic polymorphisms of the inflammatory cytokines, IL-10, TGF-beta1, IFN-gamma, IL-6, and TNF-alpha with the clinical presentation of coronary artery disease in 26 patients with stable angina, 45 patients with unstable angina and 58 patients who had experienced nonfatal myocardial infarction. Genotyping was performed by the sequence-specific primer polymerase chain reaction method. RESULTS: A significant difference in the frequencies of -174G/C IL-6 alleles was observed, with the low in-vitro producing -174*C allele predominating in patients with myocardial infarction, compared with stable angina and unstable angina patients, after the analysis of genotypes (P=0.024 and 0.022, respectively), phenotypes [P=0.0099, odds ratio (OR)=0.271, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.1012-0.7292; P=0.03, OR=0.40, respectively] and haplotypes (P=0.007, OR=3.028, 95% CI=1.347-6.806; P=0.0096, OR=2.368, 95% CI=1.262-4.444; respectively). In addition, a predominance of the -1082ACC/ATA IL-10 genotype in the myocardial infarction group compared with the unstable angina group and the -874 A/A IFN-gamma genotype in the stable angina group compared with the unstable angina and the myocardial infarction group, was found. No significant differences in the distribution of genotypes, phenotypes and haplotypes in the three study groups, for the TNF-alpha-308 A/G and TGF-beta1-codon 25 G/C, codon 10 T/C polymorphisms were detected. CONCLUSION: Our data provide evidence that the IL-6-174G/C polymorphism may be involved in the pathogenesis of coronary artery disease, contributing to genetic susceptibility for myocardial infarction.