BACKGROUND: We hypothesized that indices of angiogenesis (vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), angiopoietins (Ang-1 and -2), platelet activation (soluble P-selectin)) and endothelial damage/dysfunction (von Willebrand factor (vWf)) would be more deranged in South Asians than in white Europeans when measured within the coronary sinus or coronary artery per se (that is, intracardiac sampling of blood supplying and draining the heart), as compared to measurements from the peripheral venous system. METHODS: To test this hypothesis, we performed a cross-sectional study of 87 subjects undergoing cardiac catheterization, where 43 were South Asian and 44 were white European. RESULTS: South Asian participants were younger (P = 0.01) but had a lower rate of self-reported smoking (P = 0.01). The extent of coronary atherosclerosis, assessed using presence of lesions > 50%, number of vessels diseased and Gensini score, was comparable between the two ethnic groups (all P = NS). When samples were analysed from the coronary circulation or the femoral vein in relation to South Asian and white European ethnicity, there were no significant differences in the levels of VEGF, angiopoietins 1 and 2, soluble P-selectin and vWf levels between the two ethnic groups. CONCLUSION: Indices of angiogenesis, platelet activation, and endothelial damage/dysfunction are comparable in South Asians and their white European counterparts. Our results suggest that their pathophysiological roles may be comparable in South Asians and white Europeans in the context of coronary artery disease.