Cigarette smoking, an established cardiovascular (CV) disease risk factor, is known to impair pulsatile arterial function in middle-aged and older adults. However, information is scant in healthy young adults for whom smoking is the only CV risk factor, at current guidelines. Nonsmokers (n = 145) and smokers (n = 142) aged on average 36 years were selected for not having obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, or clinically manifest CV disease. Pulsatile arterial function was measured in terms of large artery compliance (C1), small artery compliance (C2), and systemic vascular resistance (SVR) by noninvasively recorded radial artery waveforms. Smokers versus nonsmokers had significantly lower measures of adiposity and LDL-cholesterol; and higher systolic blood pressure and triglycerides. In addition, smokers versus nonsmokers had lower C2 (5.09 v 6.63 mL/mm Hg x 100, P = .0009) and higher SVR (1399.0 v 1325.5 dyn . sec . cm(-5), P = .006), after adjustment for race, sex, and age. Decreases in C2 (P for trend = .001) and increases in SVR (P for trend = .01) were noted with increasing years of smoking. Multivariate analysis revealed that duration of smoking was associated adversely with C2 (P = .004), independent of race, sex, age, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and insulin. The odds of having adverse C2 (bottom 10 percentile) and SVR (top 10 percentile) were, respectively, 2.9 (P = .01) and 2.6 (P = .07) times higher in smokers versus nonsmokers. The observed deleterious effects of cigarette smoking on arterial wall dynamics in otherwise healthy young adults underscore the need for aggressive early prevention and intervention strategies to control smoking behavior.