The recently published Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study showed that long-term treatment with simvastatin, in patients with ischaemic heart disease and serum cholesterol levels between 5.5 and 8.0 mmol/l, improved survival. The present study was conducted in order to evaluate whether patients with ischaemic heart disease awaiting coronary revascularisation are aware of their serum cholesterol levels and whether raised levels are being treated adequately. One hundred consecutive patients admitted from our waiting list for elective coronary artery bypass grafting, with or without valve replacement, were included in the study. The patients were asked whether they had a history of raised serum cholesterol and, if so, how this was being treated. Fasting serum cholesterol levels were subsequently taken in the morning before surgery. Forty-six patients gave a positive history of raised blood cholesterol levels; 25 of these were on cholesterol-lowering medication at the time of admission, 15 were on a lipid-lowering diet and six were not being treated. Thirty-one (67%) of these 46 patients had a serum cholesterol of more than 5.5 mmol/l, compared with 30 (56%) of the 54 patients without a positive history of hypercholesterolaemia, and 61% of the total 100 patients. These data suggest that an inadequate number of patients awaiting coronary artery bypass grafting are aware of their cholesterol status. The management of hypercholesterolaemia among these patients could be improved.