We related risk factors, cardiovascular symptoms, and coronary status to the extent of extracranial carotid atherosclerosis as measured by B-mode ultrasonography in 376 volunteers hospitalized for elective coronary angiography. In a first analysis, we correlated risk factors and cardiovascular symptoms with carotid atherosclerosis. Univariate analysis showed that relations between many continuous risk factors and carotid atherosclerosis were graded and consistent for men and women. Multivariate analysis identified 6 significant variables (age, hypertension, pack-years smoked, and inversely, plasma concentrations of high density lipoprotein cholesterol and uric acid, and Framingham Type A score) that together accounted for 35% of the variability in extent of carotid atherosclerosis. In a second multivariate analysis, addition of coronary status (presence or absence of coronary stenosis as evaluated by coronary angiography) to the roster of candidate independent variables produced a new equation that accounted for an additional 5% of the variability in carotid atherosclerosis extent. Although much of the variability in extent of carotid atherosclerosis remains unexplained, these data define an association between coronary and carotid atherosclerosis that depends partly on shared exposure of both arteries to the same risk factors. They are also consistent with the concept that as yet undiscovered risk factors and/or genetic (e.g., arterial wall) factors common to both arterial beds also contribute to the relation between coronary and carotid atherosclerosis in human beings.