Heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an autosomal dominant disorder known to be associated with elevated cholesterol levels and increased risk of premature coronary heart disease. Since increased cholesterol levels lead to atherosclerosis, FH has also been proposed as a risk factor for peripheral vascular and ischemic cerebrovascular disease. Currently, the association between clinical FH and risk of stroke is unclear: Two studies conducted in the 1980s indicated an increased risk of stroke in FH subjects; however, two others found no higher risk, and all had methodological limitations. A recent prospective study of familial hypercholesterolemia by the United Kingdom-based Simon Broome Register Group did not find an excess risk of stroke mortality for subjects with clinical FH. By contrast, the prevalence of peripheral arterial disease is increased from five- to 10-fold in FH subjects compared with non-FH controls. In addition, the intima-media thickness of the carotid and/or femoral artery is increased in FH subjects. Better understanding of the association between FH and the incidence of ischemic stroke events could have a public health impact by improving the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of individuals with FH and their relatives and by elucidating the relation between cholesterol levels and ischemic cerebrovascular disease.