The aim of this study was to examine whether detection of coronary calcium and the autoimmune response associated with atherosclerosis, either solely or in combination, are different in patients with typical and atypical chest pain. Coronary calcium as detected by spiral computerized tomography and levels of antibodies against cardiolipin (CL), oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL), and β2-glycoprotein-I (β2-GPI) were studied in patients with typical chest pain (n = 52), atypical chest pain (n = 19), or without chest pain (n = 21). Patients with typical chest pain had higher mean levels of coronary calcium (expressed as natural transformation of total coronary calcium score) compared with patients with atypical chest pain and controls (5.04 vs 3.21 and 2.75, respectively; p < 0.001). The levels of anti-CL were (mean ± SD of optical density multiplied by 1,000): 262 ± 140, 170 ± 82, and 230 ± 115 for patients with typical chest pain, atypical chest pain, and controls, respectively (p = 0.016). No significant difference was found between groups regarding anti-ox-LDL and anti-β2-GPI autoantibody levels. In the typical chest pain group, there was a higher prevalence of high total coronary calcium scores (p = 0.03) and high anti-CL levels (p = 0.01) than in the atypical chest pain group. Eighteen of 52 patients with typical chest pain (35%) had both high calcium scores and high antibody levels, whereas none of the 19 patients (0%) who had atypical chest pain had high levels of both (p = 0.003). A combination of both coronary calcium and anti-CL was associated with higher area under the receiver operator characteristic curves than for each separately. High coronary calcium scores or high anti-CL levels are found more often in typical than in atypical chest pain patients, but a combination of high levels of both can better differentiate typical from atypical chest pain patients. (C) 2000 by Excerpta Medica, Inc.