Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. There has been a substantial decrease in CHD mortality in the past few decades in the United States for both women and men. The change in lifestyle after World War II may affect the incidence of and mortality from CHD in a more recent birth cohort, such as the 45-54-year-old age group. CHD mortality among women aged 45-54 by state and race in the United States and other countries in 1994 was evaluated. Correlation of the CHD mortality with state-specific and race-specific educational attainment (% of not a high school graduate) and state-specific prevalence of smoking was examined. There was a 2.5-fold difference in CHD mortality (ICD 410-414, 429.2) between black and white women aged 45-54: 78/100,000 for black versus 31/100,000 for white women; a 3-fold difference in CHD mortality among white women by state: 16/100,000 in Colorado versus 53/100,000 in Louisiana; and a 3-fold difference in CHD mortality among black women by state: 45/100,000 in New Jersey versus 124/100,000 in Arkansas. CHD mortality was correlated with educational attainment among white women (r = 0.62, p = 0.001) and with prevalence of smoking (r = 0.39, p = 0.021). There is a large variation in CHD mortality among women aged 45-54 in the United States by race and state. These differences may reflect variations in coronary risk factors. More detailed evaluation of determinants of CHD mortality by area is needed, as are public health programs that can reduce the marked disparity in CHD mortality in the United States.