Of the numerous emerging biomarkers for coronary heart disease (CHD), lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A(2) (Lp-PLA(2)), an enzyme involved in lipid metabolism and inflammatory pathways, seems to be a promising candidate. Implementation of Lp-PLA(2) measurement into clinical practice, however, requires data on the reliability of such measurements. METHODS: We measured Lp-PLA(2) concentrations by ELISA in blood samples drawn from 200 post-myocardial infarction patients (39-76 years) at 6 monthly intervals between May 2003 and February 2004, for a total of 1143 samples. We estimated analytical, within-individual, and between-individual variation, the critical difference, and the intraclass correlation coefficient of reliability (ICC) to assess the reliability of serial Lp-PLA(2) measurements. RESULTS: The mean (SD) plasma Lp-PLA(2) concentration for the study participants was 188.7 (41.8) microg/L, with no significant difference between men and women. The analytical CV for Lp-PLA(2) was 4.4%, the within-individual biological CV was 15%, and the between-individual CV was 22%. The ICC was 0.66. An important part of the total variation in plasma Lp-PLA(2) concentration was explained by the between-individual variation (as a percentage of the total variance, 66.1%), whereas the within-individual variance was 31.3%. The analytical variance was as low as 2.6%. CONCLUSIONS: Between-individual variation in Lp-PLA(2) concentration was substantially greater than within-individual variation. In general, our data demonstrate considerable stability and good reproducibility of serial Lp-PLA(2) measurements, results that compared favorably with those for the more commonly measured lipid markers.