Evidence from epidemiological and clinical studies suggests a possible correlation between serum antioxidant levels and cardiovascular disease risk. High plasma concentrations of lycopene have been associated with reduced prevalence of cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study is to compare plasma concentrations of lycopene in subjects with or without ultrasonic evidence of asymptomatic carotid atherosclerosis. One hundred and twenty subjects underwent physical examination, ultrasonic measurement of common carotid artery intima-media thickness and serum profile analysis. Logistic regression methods and analysis of variance were used to determine whether differences existed between participants with or without evidence of carotid atherosclerosis. Of the 120 participants, 58 exhibited evidence of carotid atherosclerosis. Participants with ultrasonic evidence of carotid atherosclerosis exhibited significantly higher serum concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. In contrast, participants with ultrasonic evidence of carotid atherosclerosis exhibited significantly lower plasma concentrations of lycopene. These data suggest that higher serum levels of lycopene may play a protective role versus cardiovascular diseases, in particular carotid atherosclerosis.