Plasma fibrinogen was measured in a sample of 8824 men and women aged 40-59 years participating in the Scottish Heart Health Study, and related to cardiovascular risk factors. Women had higher fibrinogen levels than men. In both sexes, multivariate analysis showed that fibrinogen was positively associated with age, smoking, total cholesterol and body mass index and negatively associated with alcohol consumption. Among women, early menopause and systolic blood pressure were also associated with fibrinogen levels. Univariate analyses showed weak positive associations with fish consumption for both sexes although only male white fish consumption entered the final model. Women with a history of contraceptive pill usage had significantly lower fibrinogen levels. The relationship between fibrinogen and physical activity was complex, and could largely be explained by smoking. These findings support the hypothesis that raised fibrinogen is one mechanism by which several major risk factors may promote coronary heart disease. However, known risk factors explained, at most, 10% of the total variance in fibrinogen levels among the general population.