Vitamin D is an important prohormone for optimal intestinal calcium absorption for mineralization of bone. Because the vitamin D receptor is present in multiple tissues, there has been interest in evaluating other potential functions of vitamin D, particularly, in cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Cross-sectional studies have reported that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of CVD, including hypertension, heart failure, and ischemic heart disease. Initial prospective studies have also demonstrated that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing incident hypertension or sudden cardiac death in individuals with preexisting CVD. Very few prospective clinical studies have been conducted to examine the effect of vitamin D supplementation on cardiovascular outcomes. The mechanism for how vitamin D may improve CVD outcomes remains obscure; however, potential hypotheses include the downregulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, direct effects on the heart, and vasculature or improvement of glycemic control. This review will examine the epidemiologic and clinical evidence for vitamin D deficiency as a cardiovascular risk factor and explore potential mechanisms for the cardioprotective effect of vitamin D. © Copyright 2009 Southern Society for Clinical Investigation.