Previous studies have found that both patients and physicians have misconceptions about women's risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). We conducted telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1002 American women, focusing on women's knowledge of their risk of heart disease, women's preventive health behaviors, and what preventive testing is being done by women's physicians. Seventy-four percent of all surveyed women rated themselves as fairly or very knowledgeable about women's health issues, yet 44% considered themselves somewhat or very unlikely to have a heart attack at some point in their lives. Fifty-eight percent believed that they were as likely or more likely to die of breast cancer than of CAD. Eighty-six percent of the subjects said they see a physician for regular checkups, but well over half of this group reported that their physicians had never talked to them about heart disease, including 47% of women 45-59 years of age and 44% of those > 60. Virtually all women who regularly see a physician reported that during routine examinations, they have their blood pressure checked (98%) and are weighed (97%), but only 13% reported having their waist and hips measured to obtain their waist:hip ratio, and only half reported that their doctor recommends cholesterol checks. We conclude that a surprisingly large number of women are either not counseled at all or are inadequately counseled about their susceptibility to CAD. Furthermore, the quality of the assessment of these women for CAD and, presumably, the quality of the treatment they receive are subject to question.