Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of death in the US. Studies have demonstrated that smoking is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and that a positive relationship occurs between smoking and aortic and coronary atherosclerosis in adults. In 1985, a multicenter cooperative study, Pathobiological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youth (PDAY), was organized to study atherosclerosis in trauma victims 15-34 years of age. Reports from this study have demonstrated that smoking is strongly associated with the prevalence and extent of grossly visible raised lesions in the abdominal aorta but only weakly associated with similar lesions in the right coronary artery. Coronary arteries from 50 smokers and 50 non-smokers were classified microscopically using a system developed by the American Heart Association in order to determine the stage at which smoking affects atherosclerosis. Smokers had over twice as many advanced lesions, types IV and V, as non-smokers (32 vs 14%) and fewer early lesions, types I, II, III, as non-smokers (38 vs 62%). The prevalence of advanced or types IV and V lesions (32%) was over twice that of intermediate or type III lesions (14%) in smokers. The opposite relationship was observed in non-smokers (14 vs 26%). This observation suggest that intermediate lesions progress rapidly into advanced lesions in smokers and that intima formerly having early lesions is replaced by intima with raised lesions.