The severity and pattern of coronary artery disease in patients referred for investigation of the disease was compared between Asian and white patients living in Birmingham, matched for age, sex, blood pressure, and duration of symptoms, to investigate the clinical impression that Asians have worse, in particular worse distal, coronary artery disease than whites. Risk factors and outcome were also examined. The coronary angiograms of 34 Asians were compared blindly and repeatedly with those of 68 whites by two independent observers. Coronary artery disease was found to be quantitatively more severe in Asians, but the distribution of the disease was the same. Some risk factors were significantly different: fewer Asians were smokers; fasting cholesterol concentrations were higher in whites; and whites were heavier, with a larger body surface area. Follow up data showed that more Asians were refused coronary artery bypass surgery because of the severity of their disease.