OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study is to investigate the effects of psychological factors on plasma lipid levels among rural women of central Wisconsin and to compare the effects of these variables among normal-weight and overweight women. METHODS: Stratified sampling was used to select a random sample (n=1500) of farm and non-farm women aged 25 to 71 years from the Central Marshfield Epidemiologic Study Area. The baseline examination included measurements of blood pressure, skin folds, height, weight, and fasting blood lipids, glucose, and insulin. Framingham study questionnaires were employed to measure anger, anxiety, tension, and marital disagreement. The Spielberger Trait anger-reaction subscale was employed to assess proneness to anger. RESULTS: Among normal-weight women, a positive association was found between anger-reaction scores and cholesterol (b=0.008), ratio (b=0.014), triglycerides (b=0.02), and LDL (b=0.07). The odds of elevated cholesterol were highest among women with high scores on the Speilberger anger-reaction scale (OR=2.0) and anger discussion scale (OR=2.0), while the odds were less among women with high scores on the anger-out scale (OR=0.59). However, among overweight women, we found only scores on the Framingham anger-discussion scale as an important factor to determine the plasma lipid levels. CONCLUSION: Anger management may help to sever the link between psychological factors and CHD risk factors. Intervention intended to prevent cardiac events through the reduction of stress and modification of related psychological risk factors have successfully improved the CHD risk factors profile. Similar studies are needed to determine the efficacy of intervention for the primary prevention of CHD risk factors.