BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of morbidity and mortality. It is well known that androgen and sex hormone-binding globulin(SHBG) in women were associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as obesity, central fat accumulation and atherogenic lipid profile. High resolution B-mode ultrasonography can visualize directly both luminal and vessel wall characteristics, and ultrasonic measurement of carotid intima-medial thickness(IMT) can be used to investigate the atherosclerosis of coronary, cerebral and peripheral arteries. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate(DHEA-S) and SHBG, and body fat distribution pattern, cardiovascular risk factor and carotid atherosclerosis in women. METHODS: Blood pressure, fasting serum glucose, insulin, lipid profile, SHBG and DHEA-S were measured. Body fat distribution pattern was assessed by waist to hip ratio, waist to thigh ratio and subscapular to triceps skin fold thickness ratio, faf mass measured by bioelectric impedance analyzer, subcutaneous fat area, visceral fat area, and visceral to subcutaneous fat area ratio(VSR) at the level of umbilicus using the computed tomography. The IMT of the carotid artery was measured by high resolution B mode ultrasound as a marker of atherosclerosis. RESULTS: 1) There was no significant difference of age-adjusted values of carotid IMT among subjects with NGT(0.426+/-0.09mm), IGT(0.46+/-10.09mm) and NIDDM(0.453+/-0.11mm). 2) In postrnenopausal women, carotid IMT was greater(0.484+/-0.11mm, p=0.05) than premenopausal women(0.426+/-0.08mm), but it was not significant after age adjustment. Serum SHBG and DHEA-S levels in postmenopausal women were significantly lower(p<0.05) than premenopausal women, but they were not significant after age adjustment. 3) Carotid IMT was significantly correlated with age(r=0.37, p<0.01), fasting serum glucose (r=0.32, p<0.01), total cholesterol(r= 0.25, p<0.05), LDL-cholesterol(r=0.26, p<0.05), visceral fat area(r=0.35, p<0.01) and VSR(r=0.31, p<0.05). 4) By the stepwise multiple regression analysis, carotid IMT was positively and significantly associated with age(p<0.01) and serum DHEA-S concentration(p<0.05) in dent of age, body mass index, waist to hip ratio, fasting serum glucose. CONCLUSION: Carotid IMT was associated with age and serum DHEA-S concentration in women without cardiovascular disease. Therefore, serum DHEA-S may be one of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in women. However, we could not conclude its cause-result relationship because of cross sectional nature of our study, and prospective study will be needed.