The Second Manifestations of ARTerial disease (SMART) study is a single-centre prospective cohort study among patients, newly referred to the hospital with (1) clinically manifest atherosclerotic vessel disease, or (2) marked risk factors for atherosclerosis. The first objectives of the SMART study are to determine the prevalence of concomitant arterial disease at other sites, and risk factors in patients presenting with a manifestation of arterial disease or vascular risk factor and to study the incidence of future cardiovascular events and its predictors in these high-risk patients. At least 1000 patients, aged 18 to 80 years, will undergo baseline examinations, including a questionnaire on cardiovascular disease, height, weight and blood pressure measurements, blood tests for glucose, lipids, creatinine and homocysteine, urinary tests for microproteinuria, resting twelve-lead electrocardiogram, ultrasound scanning of the abdominal aorta, kidneys and the carotid arteries, measurements of common carotid intima-media thickness and arterial stiffness, and a treadmill test to assess atherosclerosis of the leg arteries. Abnormal findings are reported to the treating specialist and general practitioner with a treatment suggestion according to current practice guidelines. Recruitment and baseline examinations began in September 1996. All cohort members will be followed for clinical cardiovascular events for a minimum of three years. In the scope of secondary prevention, the study is expected to support the design of solid based screening and treatment programmes and evidence-based cardiovascular medicine to reduce morbidity and mortality, and improve quality of life, in high-risk patients.