Objectives This study, examined whether dietary intake or plasma levels of antioxidant vitamins were independently associated with common carotid artery intima-media (wall) thickness (IMT) or focal plaque, or both, in a large, randomly selected community population.Background Oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is thought to be important in early atherogenesis. Antioxidant micronutrients may therefore protect against lipid peroxidation and atherosclerotic vascular disease.Methods We studied 1,111 subjects (558 men and 553 women; age 52 +/- 13 years [mean +/- SD], range 27 to 77). We measured dietary vitamin intake and fasting plasma levels of vitamins A, C and E, lycopene and alpha- and beta-carotene and performed bilateral carotid artery B-mode ultrasound imaging.Results After adjustment for age and conventional risk factors, there was a progressive decrease in mean IMT, with increasing quartiles of dietary vitamin E intake in men (p=0.02) and a nonsignificant trend in women (p=0.10). Dietary vitamin E levels accounted for 1% of the variance in measured IMT in men. For plasma antioxidant vitamins, there was an inverse association between carotid artery mean IMT and plasma lycopene in women (p=0.047), but not in men. None of the other dietary or plasma antioxidant vitamins, nor antioxidant vitamin supplements, were associated with carotid artery IMT or focal carotid artery plaque.Conclusions This study provides limited support for the hypothesis that increased dietary intake of vitamin E and increased plasma lycopene may decrease the risk of atherosclerosis. No benefit was demonstrated for supplemental antioxidant vitamin use. (J Am Coll Cardiol 2001;38: 1798-94) (C) 2001 by the American College of Cardiology.