BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is associated with increased arterial stiffness and cardiovascular complications. The objective of this study was to assess whether the color M-mode-derived propagation velocity of the descending thoracic aorta (aortic velocity propagation, AVP) was an echocardiographic marker for arterial stiffness in OSAS. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: The study population included 116 patients with OSAS and 90 age and gender-matched control subjects. The patients with OSAS were categorized according to their apnea hypopnea index (AHI) as follows: mild to moderate degree (AHI 5-30) and severe degree (AHI> or =30). Aortofemoral pulse wave velocity (PWV), carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), brachial artery flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), and AVP were measured to assess arterial stiffness. RESULTS: AVP and FMD were significantly decreased in patients with OSAS compared to controls (p<0.001). PWV and CIMT were increased in the OSAS group compared to controls (p<0.001). Moreover, AVP and FMD were significantly decreased in the severe OSAS group compared to the mild to moderate OSAS group (p<0.001). PWV and CIMT were significantly increased in the severe group compared to the mild to moderate group (p<0.001). AVP was significantly positively correlated with FMD (r=0.564, p<0.001). However, it was found to be significantly inversely related to PWV (r=-0.580, p<0.001) and CIMT (r=-0.251, p<0.001). CONCLUSION: The measurement of AVP is a novel and practical echocardiographic method, which may be used to identify arterial stiffness in OSAS.