Apolipoprotein E (apo E) plays an important role in lipid metabolism and its polymorphism may be a risk determinant of coronary heart disease (CHD). Since evidence suggested a gender-specific effect of apo E polymorphism, we studied the influence of gender-specific interaction of the polymorphism on CHD. From a total of 463 Greek Caucasians (314 men and 149 postmenopausal women) with angiographically documented CHD, we selected 79 women (68+/- 9 yr old) and 79 men (66+/- 9 yr old) who were matched for clinical characteristics. Apo E genotyping was performed by PCR and RFLP analysis. Biochemical parameters were also measured. The results were as follows: the E3/3 genotype occurred in 78.5% of the patients, followed by E3/4, E2/3, E2/4, and E4/4 genotypes, which occurred in 9.5%, 9.5%, 1.9%, and 0.6% of the patients, respectively. No significant differences were observed in the apo E allele or apo E genotype distributions between the matched Greek men and women with CHD. The E3/3 men patients were more frequently part of a family with a history of CHD, compared to women (p=0.035).