Recent findings have implicated the gut microbiota as a contributor of metabolic diseases through the modulation of host metabolism and inflammation. Atherosclerosis is associated with lipid accumulation and inflammation in the arterial wall, and bacteria have been suggested as a causative agent of this disease. Here we use shotgun sequencing of the gut metagenome to demonstrate that the genus Collinsella was enriched in patients with symptomatic atherosclerosis, defined as stenotic atherosclerotic plaques in the carotid artery leading to cerebrovascular events, whereas Roseburia and Eubacterium were enriched in healthy controls. Further characterization of the functional capacity of the metagenomes revealed that patient gut metagenomes were enriched in genes encoding peptidoglycan synthesis and depleted in phytoene dehydrogenase; patients also had reduced serum levels of β-carotene. Our findings suggest that the gut metagenome is associated with the inflammatory status of the host and patients with symptomatic atherosclerosis harbor characteristic changes in the gut metagenome.