The extent of carotid artery atherosclerosis as measured by B-mode ultrasound has been shown to be strongly and independently correlated with the presence or absence of coronary atherosclerotic disease (CAD), but no studies to date have used carotid B-mode ultrasound to compare the extent of atherosclerotic disease in the two arterial circulations. We used data from a registry of patients undergoing cardiac catheterization and B-mode ultrasound of the carotid arteries to compare the extent of CAD (number of major coronary vessels with 50% or greater stenosis as judged by a consensus interpretation) with the extent of extracranial carotid atherosclerosis. Four hundred thirty-four patients (234 men, 200 women) greater than 40 years of age were stratified by gender and then divided into quartiles on the basis of a B-mode score that was derived by summing arterial wall thickness at nine sites in the left and nine sites in the right carotid arteries. Evaluation of extent of CAD for the four B-mode quartiles showed that men in the lowest B-mode quartile were over six times more likely to have normal coronary arteries than three- to four-vessel CAD, while men in the highest B-mode quartile were over 10 times more likely to have three- to four-vessel CAD than normal coronary arteries. The findings were similar for women but not as dramatic. Gender-specific discriminant function models using traditional risk factors alone or in combination with B-mode score were developed to predict the extent of CAD. Discriminant models containing traditional risk factors alone performed only slightly better than a model that contained only the B-mode score. The addition of the B-mode score to models of traditional risk factors added little to the predictive ability for CAD extent.