Flexibility is one of the components of physical fitness as well as cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength and endurance. Flexibility has long been considered a major component in the preventive treatment of musculotendinous strains. The present study investigated a new aspect of flexibility. Using a cross-sectional study design, we tested the hypothesis that a less flexible body would have arterial stiffening. A total of 526 adults, 20 to 39 yr of age (young), 40 to 59 yr of age (middle-aged), and 60 to 83 yr of age (older), participated in this study. Subjects in each age category were divided into either poor- or high-flexibility groups on the basis of a sit-and-reach test. Arterial stiffness was assessed by brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV). Two-way ANOVA indicated a significant interaction between age and flexibility in determining baPWV (P < 0.01). In middle-aged and older subjects, baPWV was higher in poor-flexibility than in high-flexibility groups (middle-aged, 1,260 +/- 141 vs. 1,200 +/- 124 cm/s, P < 0.01; and older, 1,485 +/- 224 vs. 1,384 +/- 199 cm/s, P < 0.01). In young subjects, there was no significant difference between the two flexibility groups. A stepwise multiple-regression analysis (n = 316) revealed that among the components of fitness (cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and flexibility) and age, all components and age were independent correlates of baPWV. These findings suggest that flexibility may be a predictor of arterial stiffening, independent of other components of fitness.