Hemorheological parameters (viscosity of whole blood, plasma viscosity, hematocrit, velocity of red blood cells) were studied in 30 patients with coronary artery disease (15 patients with acute myocardial infarction, 15 patients with chronic angina), 14 subjects at high risk for ischemic heart disease and 14 normal volunteers matched for sex and age. Viscosity of whole blood was high in all coronary disease patients and in high-risk subjects as compared with controls. Velocity of red blood cells was significantly decreased in these patients. On the other hand, plasma viscosity and fibrinogen values were in the normal range in both groups and hematocrit was only slightly elevated in patients with angina. Furthermore, there were no changes in rheological parameters during the period of observation (1 week). We can suppose that the hyperviscosity is due, above all, to the decreased red blood cell deformability both in coronary disease patients but also in high-risk subjects. It is probable that red blood cell damage is present before the acute ischemic event, and that is a preexisting cause and not a consequence of it.