Carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) is a widely accepted index for assessing atherosclerosis, and is known to be a risk indicator for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events. Oxidative stress and inflammation are also known to play critical roles in the pathogenesis of vascular events. We studied the association between IMT and inflammatory markers, such as oxidative stress in polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) and mononuclear cells (MNCs) in 156 patients with essential hypertension. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation by PMNs and MNCs was measured by gated flow cytometry. CRP and traditional risk factors, such as age, gender, body mass index, hemoglobin A1c, and total cholesterol were also measured. The subjects were divided into a plaque group (max-IMT≥1.1 mm, n=40), and a nonplaque group (max-IMT<1.1 mm, n=116). ROS formation by MNCs was significantly increased in the plaque group when compared with the nonplaque group (P<0.0001). Multiple regression analysis revealed a significant correlation between IMT and ROS formation by MNCs (r=0.407, P<0.0001), or CRP (r=0.216, P=0.0029) or hemoglobi-nA1c (r=0.158, P=0.0270) or age (r=0.157, P=0.0447). No significant correlation was observed between IMT and ROS formation by PMNs. These results suggest that carotid artery IMT may be affected by increased ROS formation by MNCs, and that increased ROS formation by MNCs may be related to the development of atherosclerosis. We propose that ROS formation by MNCs is a marker for prediction of carotid atherosclerosis.