Although there is strong evidence that the prevalence of venous thrombo-embolism (VTE) varies significantly among different ethnic/racial groups, the genetic, physiologic and/or clinical basis for these differences remain largely undefined. African-American patients have a significantly higher rate of incident VTE, particularly following exposure to a provoking risk factor such as surgery, medical illness, trauma, etc. In addition, African-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with pulmonary embolism (PE) than deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) compared to Caucasian and other racial groups. On the other extreme, Asians/Pacific Islanders have a 70% lower prevalence of VTE and this is true for both idiopathic VTE and provoked, or 'secondary', VTE. Hispanics have a significantly lower prevalence of VTE compared to Caucasians, but higher than Asians/Pacific Islanders. The incidence of recurrent VTE varies depending on gender, type of thromboembolic event and race. Further research is needed in order to determine the fundamental differences between racial/ethnic groups that explain the observed differences in the prevalence of VTE. Race/ethnicity should be considered an important factor in the risk-stratification of patients with suspected VTE or patients at some risk for developing VTE.