Arterial stiffening is the most important cause of increasing systolic and pulse pressure, and for decreasing diastolic pressure beyond 40 years of age. Stiffening affects predominantly the aorta and proximal elastic arteries, and to a lesser degree the peripheral muscular arteries. While conceptually a Windkessel model is the simplest way to visualize the cushioning function of arteries, this is not useful clinically under changing conditions when effects of wave reflection become prominent. Many measures have been applied to quantify stiffness, but all are approximations only, on account of the nonhomogeneous structure of the arterial wall, its variability in different locations, at different levels of distending pressure, and with changes in smooth muscle tone. This article summarizes the methods and indices used to estimate arterial stiffness, and provides values from a survey of the literature, followed by recommendations of an international group of workers in the field who attended the First Consensus Conference on Arterial Stiffness, which was held in Paris during 2000, under the chairmanship of M.E. Safar and E.D. Frohlich.