Background: Coronary artery disease (CAD) is still a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in both genders in Turkey as well as other countries. The role of plasma triglycerides (TG) as a CAD risk factor has been controversial. We investigated the relation between age and gender differences in plasma TG and CAD in patients with angiographically proven CAD. Methods: The study population consisted of 937 patients (605 males and 332 females, aged between 32 and 82 years). The patients were divided into three age groups as <45, 45-59 and greater than or equal to60 years. Risk factors were considered as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoking and family history. Hypertriglyceridemia was defined as TG concentration >150 mg/dl (>1.69 mmol/l). Results: Of the total, 608 had CAD. TG was an independent risk factor for CAD only in women (p < 0.05). There was also a positive correlation between TG concentrations and number of the diseased vessels only in women (p 0.001, r = 0.2). Conclusion: High TG concentrations increase CAD risk more in women than in men in Southern Turkey. Triglycerides should be taken into consideration as an important risk factor especially in women >45 years of age. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.