A large body of evidence suggests hormone replacement therapy (HRT) reduces cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women. It is, however, associated with serious side effects, such as increased risk of breast and endometrial cancer. This has likely caused uneasiness among both women and health care providers. A new class of compounds, called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), have emerged. Through their interactions at the estrogen receptor level they have become a class of compounds distinct from estrogen. While they share similar effects with estrogen on such factors as lipid profile and bone density, they affect other tissues differently. Specifically, they do not induce endometrial hyperplasia and are therefore not associated with endometrial cancer. In vitro studies have also shown that they inhibit lipoprotein oxidation and vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation. The cumulative effects of these compounds may prove quite beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women while avoiding serious side effects. This may, in turn, ease much of the anxiety surrounding the issue of HRT. Clinical trials are presently being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of raloxifene, a SERM, on cardiovascular risk reduction in postmenopausal women.