The risk of stroke related to asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis is known to be increased in high-grade or rapidly progressive stenosis. Information of the prevalence in the general population is required for the recommendation of screening methods to detect patients needing prophylactic treatment. We studied the prevalence and the grade of severity of extracranial carotid and vertebral artery obstructions by means of Doppler sonography in 529 asymptomatic Russians (m: 343, f: 186; 36-84 years, mean: 58.4 years) living in Moscow city. Internal carotid artery obstructions of more than 50% stenosis were present in 22 (= 4.2%) subjects, 8 of them (1.5%) had bilateral lesions. Appropriate abnormal findings in vertebral arteries were found in 11 (= 2.1%) subjects, in 1 of them bilaterally. Affection of both the carotid and the vertebral arteries was noted in 4(= 0.8%) individuals. There were no sexual differences. The risk factor which correlated most significantly with cervical arterial lesions was hypertension. Carotid lesions were also significantly associated with age and smoking, but not with diabetes or hyperlipoproteinemia. The prevalence of cervical artery stenoses was found to be lower than in western reports, which may be due to different technical equipment and different study design.