OBJECTIVE: To assess biochemical, anthropometric, and dietary variables considered risk factors for coronary artery disease. METHODS: Using anthropometrics, dietary allowance, and blood biochemistry, we assessed 84 patients [54 males (mean age of 55± 8 years) and 30 females (mean age of 57±7 years)], who had severe ( > or = 70% coronary artery obstruction) and nonsevere forms of coronary artery disease determined by cardiac catheterization. The severe form of the disease prevailed in 70% of the males and 64% of the females, and a high frequency of familial antecedents (92% ' 88%) and history of acute myocardial infarction (80% ' 70%) were observed. Smoking predominated among males (65%) and diabetes mellitus among females (43%). RESULTS: Males and females had body mass index and body fat above the normal values. Females with nonsevere lesions had HDL > 35 mg/dL, and this constituted a discriminating intergroup indicator. Regardless of the severity of the disease, hyperglycemia and hypertriglyceridemia were found among females, and cholesterolemia > 200 mg/dL in both sexes, but only males had LDL fraction > 160 mg/dL and homocysteine > 11.7 mmol/L. The male dietary allowance was inadequate in nutrients for homocysteine metabolism and in nutrients with an antioxidant action, such as the vitamins B6, C, and folate. Individuals of both sexes had a higher lipid and cholesterol intake and an inadequate consumption of fiber. The diet was classified as high-protein, high-fat, and low-carbohydrate. CONCLUSION: The alterations found had no association with the severity of lesions, indicating the need for more effective nutritional intervention.