Although risk factors for coronary artery disease are also associated with increased carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) as measured by B-mode ultrasonography in middle-aged and older persons, information on the impact of multiple risk factors on the IMT of different segments of the carotid artery in young adults is limited. This relation was examined in a sample of 518 black and white subjects (mean age 32 years; 71% white, 39% male) enrolled in the Bogalusa Heart Study. IMT was thicker and more skewed in the bulb compared with other carotid segments. Race differences (blacks more than whites) were noted for the common carotid (p <0.001) and carotid bulb (bifurcation) IMT (women only, p <0.001). Men had a greater IMT in the common carotid (p <0.05), internal carotid (p <0.05), and carotid bulb (whites only, p <0.001). In a multivariate analysis, systolic blood pressure, race, age, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol weree entered into a model in that order and accounted for the 16.7% variance in the common carotid IMT; age, systolic blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, race, and insulin levels explained the 19.4% variance in the carotid bulb IMT. Gender and body mass index (BMI) accounted for the 4.7% variance in the internal carotid IMT. Increases in IMT with increasing number of risk factors (cigarette smoking, higher total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio, higher systolic blood pressure, greater waist circumference, and higher insulin level) were noted for the common carotid and carotid bulb segments (p for trend <0.001 for both). The observed deleterious trend of increasing IMT at different carotid segments with increasing number of risk factors in free-living, asymptomatic young subjects underscores the importance of profiling multiple risk factors early in life. Ultrasonography of carotid arteries, especially at the bifurcation, may be helpful along with measurements of risk factors for evaluation of asymptomatic atherosclerotic disease.