This study investigates the association of several inflammatory markers with subclinical and clinical cardiovascular disease in older men and women. Data are from the baseline assessment of 3,045 well-functioning persons aged 70 to 79 years, participating in the Health, Aging and Body Composition study. The study sample was divided into 3 groups: "cardiovascular disease" (diagnosis of congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, or stroke), "subclinical cardiovascular disease" (positive findings on the Rose questionnaire for angina or claudication, ankle-brachial index <0.9, or electrocardiographic abnormalities), and "no cardiovascular disease." Serum levels of interleukin (IL)-6, C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and the soluble receptors IL-6 soluble receptor, IL-2 soluble receptor, TNF soluble receptor I, and TNF soluble receptor II were assessed. Of those with IL-6 levels in the highest compared with the lowest tertile, the odds ratio (OR) for subclinical cardiovascular disease was 1.58 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.26 to 1.97) and for clinical cardiovascular disease was 2.35 (95% CI 1.79 to 3.09). A similar association was found for TNF-alpha (OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.88 and OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.55 to 2.72, respectively). In adjusted analyses, CRP was not significantly associated with overall subclinical or clinical cardiovascular disease, although additional analyses did find a strong specific association between CRP and congestive heart failure (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.41). Of the soluble cytokine receptors, only TNF soluble receptor I showed a significant association with clinical cardiovascular disease. Thus, our findings suggest an important role for IL-6 and TNF-alpha in clinical as well as subclinical cardiovascular disease. In this study, CRP had a weaker association with cardiovascular disease than the cytokines.