High level of total homocysteine (tHcy) is a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), but the mechanism is not known. The serum concentration of tHcy, total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and apolipoprotein A-I (apo A-I) and the concentration of folate in whole blood were measured in 107 patients with first acute myocardial infarction (MI) and 103 controls. The level of whole blood folate was lower and that of tHcy higher in cases than in controls. An increase of 50 nmol/l whole blood folate was associated with an OR for MI of 0.75, and an increase of 5 micromol/l tHcy with an OR for MI of 1.57. Correlations were observed between the levels of whole blood folate and tHcy and between whole blood folate and alcohol intake, and in MI cases, between tHcy, HDL-C, and apo A-I as well as between HDL-C and alcohol intake. The number of cigarette smokers was higher among cases than controls. In smokers, the level of tHcy was higher and that of whole blood folate lower than in non-smokers. After adjustment for smoking, the whole blood folate and tHcy-associated risks of MI became non-significant. We conclude that smoking may affect folate status and tHcy level adversely. The risk of MI in smokers may at least partly be attributed to hyperhomocysteinemia or low folate.