Few population studies have evaluated the associations of both coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid ultrasound with cardiovascular events, especially in adults >70 years of age. At the Pittsburgh Field Center of the Cardiovascular Health Study, 559 men and women, mean age 80.2 (SD 4.1) years had CAC score assessed by electron beam computerized tomographic scan and common and internal carotid artery intimal medial wall thickness (CCA-IMT and ICA-IMT) by carotid ultrasound between 1998 and 2000 and were followed for total and incident cardiovascular disease events through June 2003. Crude rates and hazard ratios for total and incident events were examined with and without adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors. After 5 years, there were 127 cardiovascular disease events, 48 myocardial infarctions or cardiovascular disease deaths, and 28 strokes or stroke deaths. Total and incident cardiovascular disease event rates were higher in each quartile of CAC and CCA-IMT, but not of ICA-IMT. For total cardiovascular disease, the adjusted hazard ratio for the fourth versus first quartile of CAC was 2.1 (95% confidence interval 1.2 to 3.9) and for CCA-IMT was 2.3 (95% confidence interval 1.3 to 4.1). The CCA-IMT was more strongly related to stroke risk than was CAC, although CAC was also an important predictor of stroke. No significant gender differences were found, although relative risks appeared to be stronger in women, especially for stroke. In conclusion, in adults >70 years of age, CAC and CCA-IMT had similar hazard ratios for total cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. The CCA-IMT was more strongly related to stroke than CAC, but CAC was also a predictor of stroke.