In men in the post-World War II birth cohort, that is, men aged 40 to 49 years, whites in the United States had significantly higher levels of intima-media thickness of the carotid arteries (IMT) than the Japanese in Japan (Electron-Beam Tomography and Risk Assessment Among Japanese and US Men in the Post World War II Birth Cohort [ERA JUMP] study). The difference remained after adjusting for traditional risk factors. Primary genetic effects are unlikely, given the degree to which IMT is increased in the Japanese who migrated to the United States. We investigated whether the differences in the distributions of lipoprotein subclasses explain the difference in IMT between the 2 populations. We examined population-based samples of 466 randomly selected men aged 40 to 49 years (215 whites from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and 241 Japanese from Kusatsu, Shiga, Japan). Lipoprotein subclasses were determined by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The whites had significantly higher levels of large very low-density lipoprotein particles and significantly lower levels of large high-density lipoprotein particles than the Japanese, whereas the 2 populations had similar levels of small low-density lipoprotein particles. The 2 populations had similar associations of IMT with NMR lipoproteins. Adjusting for NMR lipoproteins did not attenuate the significant difference in IMT between the 2 populations (0.671 +/- 0.006 mm for the whites and 0.618 +/- 0.006 mm for the Japanese, P = .01, mean +/- SE). Differences in the distributions of NMR lipoproteins between the 2 populations did not explain the higher IMT in the whites.