The association of impaired pulmonary function with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality has been reported in several prospective studies. The nature of this association and the mechanisms underlying it are unknown. Both atherosclerosis and central arterial stiffness might be involved. We recently reported, in a 4-yr longitudinal study, that reduced lung function predicts the development of carotid atherosclerotic plaques. In the present study, we report the associations of aortic stiffness with lung function measurements. One hundred and ninety-four men, aged 30 to 70 yr and free of coronary heart disease, who volunteered for a standard health examination were included. FEV(1) and FVC were used to assess lung function. Aortic stiffness was estimated from the carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity (PWV), which increases proportionally with an increase in aortic stiffness. PWV was significantly and negatively associated with FEV(1) and FVC (partial correlation coefficients adjusted for age and height: -0.27 [p < 0.001] and -0.24 [p < 0.001], respectively). For every 1 SD increase in PWV (2.5 m/s), FEV(1) decreased by 195.2 +/- 50.1 ml (p < 0.001) in an age- and height-adjusted analysis. The corresponding decrease in FVC was 190.4 +/- 55.0 ml (p < 0.001). Further adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors (weight, smoking habits, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, and hypertension) did not markedly alter these results. In addition, negative associations of PWV with lung function measurements were observed within each category of cardiovascular risk factors. This study suggests that reduced pulmonary function is independently associated with aortic stiffness in men. The interrelations between pulmonary and vascular alterations should be thoroughly investigated.