Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease remains a major cause of mortality and morbidity in most developed countries. Experimental and clinical evidence suggests that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and vitamin E therapy may retard the atherosclerotic process; however, definitive proof in humans is lacking. The Study to Evaluate Carotid Ultrasound Changes in Patients Treated with Ramipril and Vitamin E (SECURE) is designed to assess the effects of ramipril--an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, at 2 doses: 2.5 mg daily (which has little effect on lowering blood pressure) and 10 mg daily--and the antioxidant vitamin E, 400 IU daily, on atherosclerosis progression in 732 patients using a factorial 3 x 2 study design. High-risk patients with a documented history of significant cardiovascular disease or with diabetes and additional risk factors were enrolled and will be followed for 4 years. The extent and progression of atherosclerosis are assessed noninvasively by B-mode carotid ultrasonography. The SECURE trial is a substudy of the larger Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) study of 9,541 high-risk patients evaluating the effects of ramipril and vitamin E on major cardiovascular events (cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, and stroke). The 2 studies are complementary. Whereas HOPE is expected to provide information on major clinical outcomes, SECURE will shed light on the mechanisms by which these effects may be mediated.