Collagens play a central role in maintaining the integrity and stability of the undiseased as well as of the atherosclerotic vessel wall. An imbalanced metabolism may lead to uncontrolled collagen accumulation reducing vessel wall velocity, frequently resulting in arterial occlusion or thrombosis. A reduced production of collagen and its uncontrolled degradation may affect the stability of the vessel wall and especially of the atherosclerotic plaques by making them prone to rupture and aneurysm. This review presents an overview on the four groups of vascular collagens and on their role in atherogenesis. The major focus was to highlight the extraordinary role and importance of the short chain network forming type VIII collagen in the extracellular matrix of undiseased arteries and of atherosclerotic plaques. The molecular structure of type VIII collagen, its cellular origin, its implication in atherogenesis, its temporal and spatial expression patterns in human and experimental models of atherogenesis, the factors modulating its expression, and--not at least--its potential function is discussed.