In this study, the wall motion of the common carotid artery was characterized by measuring wall-motion velocity (Wv) with tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) in 78 male and female subjects (16-75 y) with no history of cardiovascular disease. The near and far arterial wall showed essentially different Wv patterns. To assess the vascular systolic distension, the Wv of the near and far arterial walls were measured and a Wv index was calculated by subtracting the far Wv from the near Wv. Aging was associated with a 2.0-2.5-fold decrease of peak Wv index. Corrected for carotid diameter and blood pressure, the peak Wv index and mean systolic acceleration to the peak Wv correlated highly with arterial distensibility (r = 0.81 resp. r = 0.75) and compliance (r = 0.73 resp. r = 0.68). This study demonstrates the feasibility of TDI in the characterization of wall motion patterns and in the assessment of common carotid artery stiffness.