We investigated the potential role of the 75 kD receptor for tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) (TNFRSF1B, located on chromosome 1 band p36.2) as a modifier gene in familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCH), based on previous linkage and association data. Age-corrected values for the soluble (s) extracellular domain of TNF-R p75 were lower in 156 well-characterized hyperlipidemic (HL) FCH relatives than in 168 normolipidemic (NL) relatives (P ( 0.01). Plasma concentrations of the soluble domain of the 55 kD receptor (sTNF-R p55, the other TNF-alpha receptor) did not differ between HL and NL relatives. In conditional logistic regression analysis, plasma sTNF-R p75 concentration was the only non-lipid variable that contributed significantly to prediction of affected FCH status (regression coefficient = -0.413, P=0.01). The present findings have potentially important diagnostic and therapeutic implications in FCH.