The usual choice of spread used on bread, and the calculated total amount of fat spread on bread per day, were related to socio-economic and coronary artery disease risk factors in 9003 respondents in the Health and Lifestyle Survey. Butter was the most popular spread, regardless of social group or income. Polyunsaturated margarine and low fat spread were chosen significantly more frequently by those in the higher socio-economic groups and by non-smokers in each group. A past history of heart disease was associated with the choice of polyunsaturated margarine, low fat spread, or no spread at all; this was most apparent in men. No such relationship was found between choice of spread and family history of heart disease or hypertension. Overweight and obese respondents were a little more likely than lean respondents to choose low fat spread or no spread. Men over 60 years consumed less fat, as spread, than younger men, but in women there was a tendency for consumption to increase with age. In both sexes, the non-manual groups consumed less spread than the manual at comparable ages. Smokers in each group consumed significantly more than non-smokers. The amount of spread consumed was not associated with body mass index, a past history or family history of heart disease or previously diagnosed hypertension. These findings suggest that current recommendations to reduce total fat intake and to reduce the proportion of saturated fats used are not being followed, at least in respect of spread, by those at greatest risk of coronary heart disease.