The purpose of this study was to investigate the histological characteristics of atheromatous carotid plaque, and to analyze the relationship between the angiographic findings and the clinical features. We retrospectively reviewed 55 cases of carotid endarterectomy for extracranial internal carotid artery stenosis, who were treated at our institute from January 1995 to December 1997. The histological examination included hematoxylin-eosin staining, Masson-trichrome staining, and immunostaining for antismooth muscle antibody and anti-CD68 antibody. The main compositions of the carotid plaque included synthetic type vascular smooth muscle cells and extracellular matrix. The histological findings showed ulceration in 49 (89.1%) cases, calcium deposits in 42 (76.4%) cases, and an inflammatory reaction in 44 (80.0%) cases. Neurological abnormalities were strongly associated with plaque ulceration (P = 0.045) and an inflammatory reaction (P = 0.013), whereas no correlation existed regarding calcium deposits (P = 0.173). The angiographic findings showed ulceration in 46 (83.6%) cases. Plaque ulceration in the angiography findings showed no statistically significant correlation with the histologic findings (P = 0.410) and preoperative neurologic abnormalities (P = 0.059). All of the atherosclerotic risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and myocardial infarction had no statistically significant correlation with the histological features of the carotid plaque. In conclusion, the main compositions of carotid plaque were synthetic-type vascular smooth muscle cells and extracellular matrix. The histological ulceration and inflammatory reaction of the plaque showed a statistically significant correlation with the preoperative neurologic symptoms, whereas no correlation was seen in the calcium deposits. Angiographic ulceration showed no correlation with the histological findings or preoperative neurologic abnormalities. In addition, the histological findings showed no correlation with the atherosclerotic risk factors.