Brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) is a promising technique to assess arterial stiffness conveniently. However, it is not known whether baPWV is associated with well-established indices of central arterial stiffness. We determined the relation of baPWV with aortic (carotid-femoral) PWV, leg (femoral-ankle) PWV, and carotid augmentation index (AI) by using both cross-sectional and interventional approaches. First, we studied 409 healthy adults aged 18-76 years. baPWV correlated significantly with aortic PWV (r = 0.76), leg PWV (r = 0.76), and carotid AI (r = 0.52). A stepwise regression analysis revealed that aortic PWV was the primary independent correlate of baPWV, explaining 58% of the total variance in baPWV. Additional 23% of the variance was explained by leg PWV. Second, 13 sedentary healthy men were studied before and after a 16-week moderate aerobic exercise intervention (brisk walking to jogging; 30-45 min/day; 4-5 days/week). Reductions in aortic PWV observed with the exercise intervention were significantly and positively associated with the corresponding changes in baPWV (r = 0.74). A stepwise regression analysis revealed that changes in aortic PWV were the only independent correlate of changes in baPWV (beta = 0.74), explaining 55% of the total variance. These results suggest that baPWV may provide qualitatively similar information to those derived from central arterial stiffness although some portions of baPWV may be determined by peripheral arterial stiffness.