Factor V Leiden (factor V Arg506Gln), the genetic defect underlying resistance to activated protein C, is the most common risk factor for venous thrombosis. The relationship between this genetic abnormality and arterial disease is still unresolved. To assess whether factor V Leiden increases the risk of myocardial infarction (MI), we conducted a population-based case-control study among women 18 to 44 years of age in western Washington state. We included 84 women with first MI and 388 control women, ie, women residing in the same area in the same age range without MI (n = 388). The control women were contacted by random digit dialing. Data on risk factor status were collected via personal interview, and data on the factor V genotype via polymerase chain reaction techniques. The factor V Leiden mutation was found more often in women with MI (10%) than among controls (4%). The odds ratio for MI was 2.4 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0 to 5.9]. The risk was increased fourfold (CIgs 1.2 to 12.1) when adjusted for major cardiovascular risk factors. Among nonsmokers the factor V Leiden mutation had little effect (odds ratio 1.1, CI95 0.1 to 8.5), whereas it had a large effect among smokers (odds ratio 3.6, CI95 0.9 to 14.4), which, because smoking was itself a strong risk factor for MI, led to an odds ratio for smoking carriers of the mutation that was 32-fold increased compared with nonsmoking noncarriers. We conclude that factor V Leiden increases the risk of MI in young women. This effect seems to be confined largely to current smokers.