Atherosclerosis is a heritable trait with little known about specific genetic influences on preclinical measures of plaque formation. Based on relations of parasympathetic-cholinergic function to atherosclerosis and to a choline transporter gene [CHT1 (G/T)] polymorphism, we investigated whether the same allelic variant predicts variation in carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and plaque formation. Carotid IMT and plaque occurrence as well as genotyping for the CHT1 (G/T) variant were measured in a sample (N = 264) of generally healthy adults (age 30-55) of European ancestry. CHT1 GG homozygotes had greater IMT (P < 0.005) and plaque occurrence (P < 0.020) than T allele carriers. This is the first study showing polymorphic variation in the CHT1 gene to predict early, subclinical measures of carotid atherosclerosis which may aid in understanding cholinergic-vagal processes potentially underlying atherosclerotic risk.