We evaluated 675 men and 190 women who had no symptoms or history of clinical CHD, to determine the prevalence and risk factor correlates of CAC deposits as a marker of atherosclerosis. Measurements were taken noninvasively by ultrafast CT. The presence and extent of CAC deposits as measured by ultrafast CT was determined in all subjects, who also received personal and family medical history and risk factor questionnaire. The prevalence of CAC deposits increased significantly with age, ranging from 15% and 30% in men and women, respectively, < 40 years of age to 93% and 75% in those aged > or = 70 years. Prevalence and total score also increased by the number of risk factors present, although in those aged > 60 years a high prevalence (> 80% in men) of calcium was present regardless of the presence of risk factors. In multiple logistic regression, age, male gender, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity were independently associated with CAC deposits. These results suggest a high prevalence of atherosclerosis with increasing age and the presence of risk factors in men and women who have no symptoms. Studies to determine the prognostic value of CAC in individuals with no symptoms are needed to determine which populations may benefit most from CAC deposit screening.