Atherosclerotic plaque-like lesions are prevalent in synthetic arteriovenous shunts created to provide vascular access for hemodialysis. Similarities to atherosclerotic plaques in native arteries include eccentric location, immunoreactivity for smooth muscle actin, dystrophic calcifications, superimposed thrombi, and foam cells. Fatty streaks were not grossly identified on Sudan IV staining. Because of the similarities to atherosclerosis in native vessels, these findings may have several implications for atherogenesis. The development of raised, fibrous lesions does not require decades. The presence of smooth muscle in atherosclerotic plaque-like lesions does not require a source from tunica media. A precursor fatty streak may not be required for the development of raised, fibrous lesions. Finally, development of atherosclerotic plaque-like lesions does not require putative inflammatory effects from cholesterol or LDL accumulation, or even a native vessel that can respond to injury. The atherosclerotic plaque-like lesions in this study probably developed from organization of mural thrombi. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.