Background: Genetic factors account for approximately 50% of the individual variation in plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations in the general population. Several candidate genes have been proposed but their relative contributions to the variance in LDL-C are not known, except for apolipoprotein E (apoE). We report here an investigation of the relationship between LDL-C and cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (CYP7), as well as apoE and low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), three pivotal genes in LDL metabolism. Methods: Our study population included more than 200 nuclear families with increased coronary heart disease (CHD) risk from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Family Heart Study. Variance-component linkage methods, a measured genotype approach, and a variance-component linkage analysis conditional on a measured genotype association were used. Results: The results showed significant linkage between a genetic determinant of plasma LDL-C concentrations and a polymorphism near CYP7 with its allelic variation accounting for 27% of the total LDL-C variation. There is significant association between plasma LDL-C concentrations and apoE genotypes. Conditional on the apoE association, the total LDL-C variation accounted by allelic variation of a polymorphism near CYP7 was increased significantly. Conclusion: Our results suggest the apoE and CYP7 may be two important genes accounting for the genetic variation of plasma LDL-C concentrations in a population with cardiovascular diseases.