The purpose of this study was to examine the volume and the composition of atherosclerotic plaque in symptomatic carotid arteries and to investigate the relationship between these plaque features and the severity of stenosis and the presence of cardiovascular risk factors. One hundred patients with cerebrovascular symptoms underwent CT angiography. We measured plaque volume (PV) and the relative contribution of plaque components (calcifications, fibrous tissue, and lipid) in the symptomatic artery. The contribution of different components was measured as the number of voxels within defined ranges of HU values (calcification >130 HU, fibrous tissue 60-130 HU, lipid core <60 HU). Fifty-seven patients had atherosclerotic plaque in the symptomatic carotid artery. The severity of stenosis and PV were moderately correlated. Age and smoking were independently related to PV. Patients with hypercholesterolemia had significantly less lipid and more calcium in their plaques than patients without hypercholesterolemia. Other cardiovascular risk factors were not significantly related to PV or plaque composition. Luminal stenosis of the carotid artery partly reflects the amount of atherosclerotic carotid disease. Plaque volume and plaque composition are associated with cardiovascular risk factors.