OBJECTIVES: We sought to evaluate hypoestrogenemia of hypothalamic origin and its association with angiographic coronary artery disease (CAD) in premenopausal women. BACKGROUND: Coronary artery disease in premenopausal women appears to have a particularly poor prognosis. Primate animal data suggest that premenopausal CAD is strongly determined by psychosocial stress-induced central disruption of ovulatory cycling and resulting hypoestrogenemia. METHODS: We assessed reproductive hormone blood levels and angiographic CAD using core laboratories in 95 premenopausal women with coronary risk factors who were enrolled in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-sponsored Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation and were undergoing coronary angiography for evaluation for suspected ischemia. RESULTS: Premenopausal women with angiographic CAD (n = 13) had significantly lower estradiol, bioavailable estradiol, and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) (all p < 0.05) than women without angiographic CAD (n = 82), even after controlling for age. Hypoestrogenemia of hypothalamic origin, defined as estradiol <184 pmol/l (50 pg/ml), FSH <10 IU/1, and luteinizing hormone <10 IU/l, was significantly more prevalent among the women with CAD than those without CAD (9/13 [69%] vs. 24/82 [29%], respectively, p = 0.01). Hypoestrogenemia of hypothalamic origin was the most powerful predictor of angiographic CAD in a multivariate model (odds ratio [OR] 7.4 [confidence interval (CI) 1.7 to 33.3], p = 0.008). Anxiolytic/sedative/hypnotic and antidepressant medication use were independent predictors of hypoestrogenemia of hypothalamic origin in a multivariate model (OR 4.6 [CI 1.3 to 15.7], p = 0.02, OR 0.10 [CI 0.01 to 0.92], p = 0.04, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Among premenopausal women undergoing coronary angiography for suspected myocardial ischemia, disruption of ovulatory cycling characterized by hypoestrogenemia of hypothalamic origin appears to be associated with angiographic CAD. © 2003 by the American College of Cardiology Foundation.