Observational studies have indicated that hormone therapy given at or after menopause is linked to substantial reduction in cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. Recent findings from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trial, however, indicate that combined estrogen plus progestin hormone therapy, as well as estrogen-alone hormone therapy (given to women without a uterus), is ineffective in preventing the new onset of cardiac events in previously healthy late menopausal women. Further, the secondary prevention trial, the Heart and Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study (HERS), also failed to demonstrate any benefit of initiation of hormone therapy in women with established coronary heart disease. In light of these results, a hypothesis has arisen that early initiation of hormone therapy, in women who are at the inception of their menopause, will delay the onset of subclinical cardiovascular disease in women. The rationale that earlier intervention than that performed in the WHI and HERS trials will provide cardiovascular benefit to women is the driving force behind the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study, or KEEPS. KEEPS is a multicenter, 5-year clinical trial that will evaluate the effectiveness of 0.45 mg of conjugated equine estrogens, 50 microg weekly transdermal estradiol (both in combination with cyclic oral, micronized progesterone, 200 mg for 12 days each month), and placebo in preventing progression of carotid intimal medial thickness and the accrual of coronary calcium in women aged 42-58 years who are within 36 months of their final menstrual period. A total of 720 women are planned to be enrolled in 2005, with an anticipated close-out of the trial in 2010. This overview summarizes the recruitment and methodology of the KEEPS trial.