It has been demonstrated that there is an association between serum lipoproteins and survival rate in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy, as well as in patients with non-ischemic causes of heart failure. We tested the hypothesis of an association between serum lipoprotein levels and prognosis in a cohort of outpatients with heart failure, including Chagas' heart disease. The lipid profile of 833 outpatients with heart failure in functional classes III and IV of the New York Heart Association, with a mean age of 46.9 ± 10.6 years, 655 (78.6%) men and 178 (21.4%) women, was studied from April 1991 to June 2003. The survival rate was estimated by the Kaplan-Meyer's method and the Cox proportional hazards models. Etiology of heart failure was ischemic cardiomyopathy in 171 (21%) patients, Chagas' heart disease in 144 (17%), hypertensive cardiomyopathy in 136 (16%), and other etiologies in 83 (10%). In 299 (36%) patients, heart failure was ascribed to idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Variables significantly associated with mortality were age (hazard ratio, HR = 1.02; 95%CI = 1.01-1.03; P = 0.0074), male gender (HR = 1.77; 95%CI = 1.2-2.62; P = 0.004), idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (HR = 1.81; 95%CI = 1.16-2.82; P = 0.0085), serum triglycerides (HR = 0.97; 95%CI = 0.96-0.98; P < 0.0001), and HDL cholesterol (HR = 0.99; 95%CI = 0.99-1.0; P = 0.0280). Therefore, higher serum HDL cholesterol and higher serum triglycerides were associated with lower mortality in this cohort of outpatients with heart failure.