OBJECTIVES: Several studies have suggested that chronic inflammatory diseases might be associated with an acceleration of the atherosclerotic process. There is little information on the effect of chronic inflammation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) on the presence of increased intimal media thickening (IMT), a surrogate marker for atherosclerotic diseases. In this work our aim was to determine whether IBD is a risk factor for increased IMT. METHODS: IMT was measured by ultrasound of the carotid arteries; a computer software program was used to analyze 80-100 independent IMT samples from each carotid artery segment in 61 patients with IBD (45 with Crohn's disease and 16 with ulcerative colitis) and in 61 controls matched for age (±2 yr), sex, body mass index (BMI, ±2 kg/m2), and smoking status. RESULTS: Inflammatory markers (erythrocyte sedimentation rate, fibrinogen, high-sensitive C-reactive protein) were significantly (P < 0.001) elevated in IBD patients compared with controls. Even though there was a disease duration of 8.7 ± 8.5 yr, the mean IMT of IBD patients was similar to that of the control group (0.66 ± 0.09 vs 0.64 ± 0.07 mm; P > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Despite chronic inflammation, IBD patients had IMT values similar to those of the controls. Thus, unlike other inflammatory diseases, IBD appears not to be a risk factor for accelerated atherosclerosis.