This article reports a critical analysis of epidemiologic studies that evaluated periodontal disease as a cause of cardiovascular disease. Thirty-five studies were identified through a manual search of the special abstracts volumes of the Journal of Dental Research, as well as an electronic search on MEDLINE, LILACS, and ISI and inspection of the articles' bibliographies. Inclusion criteria were: articles in any language published between 1989 and 2000 reporting the presence or absence of an association between periodontal and cardiovascular diseases. Available studies are scarce, and interpretations are limited by potential bias and confounding. The studies analyzed (whether separately or jointly) fail to provide convincing epidemiologic evidence for a causal association between periodontal and cardiovascular diseases. Although the possibility that oral diseases can cause cardiovascular diseases cannot be discarded, until better data are available, periodontal disease should not be incriminated as a cause of cardiovascular disease.