Background: Flow mediated dilatation (FMD) of the brachial artery and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (sICAM-1) are measures of distinct functions of the endothelium, reflecting nitric oxide (NO)-mediated and pro-inflammatory status, respectively. The comparative value of the two measures in relation to cardiovascular risk is unknown. Objective: To study and quantify the relation between these two measures, and their relative value in relation to the risk of coronary heart disease as estimated by the Framingham risk function. Methods: We performed a single centre population-based study of 85 men and 81 women, aged 18-73 years. Endothelial function was assessed biochemically by sICAM-1 and functionally by FMD. In addition traditional cardiovascular risk factors, CRP, leukocyte count, homocysteine and fibrinogen were determined. Analyses were performed with multivariate linear regression, adjusted for age, gender, and CRP. Results: Median sICAM-1 levels were 217.0 μg/l (interquartile range: 174.0-348.5). Mean FMD was 4.5% (S.D.: 3.9). The regression coefficient for the association between sICAM-1 and FMD was -3.3 μg/l (95% CI: -6.0;-0.6) per percentage rise in FMD, after adjustment for age, gender, smoking, oral contraceptives (OC) use, classical risk factors and CRP. After adjustment for CRP and sICAM-1, the estimated risk of coronary heart disease in the next 10 years varied from 1.55% (95%CI: 0.89; 2.70) in the highest quintile of FMD to 3.92% (95% CI: 2.23; 6.92) in the lowest quintile. For sICAM-1, estimated risk, adjusted for FMD and CRP varied from 1.50% (95%CI: 0.85; 2.64) in the lowest quintile of sICAM-1 to 4.15% (95%CI: 2.35; 7.34) in the highest quintile. P-values for trends were 0.02 and 0.01 for quintiles of FMD and quintiles of sICAM-1, respectively. Conclusion: These findings indicate that sICAM-1 and FMD are related in healthy individuals, independently of cardiovascular risk factors and CRP, and that they are both related to the estimated risk of coronary heart disease, independently of each other. © 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.