Few studies have investigated the association of socioeconomic status (SES) and coronary artery calcification (CAC) and only one study has examined African Americans separately from Caucasians, despite empirical evidence suggesting that blacks have equivalent or lower CAC, relative to whites. We tested the hypotheses that lower childhood SES and lower average education, occupation, and income and change in SES (slope) in adulthood are related to risk of CAC in blacks and whites in the US CARDIA study. Parental education and occupation were measured at study entry (Year 0 in 1985-1986) and participant education, occupation, and household income were evaluated multiple times throughout a 20 year follow-up period at four sites in the United States. CAC was measured at Year 20 in 3138 (45% black) participants in CARDIA; 19% had CAC. Latent growth models and multivariate logistic regression analyses adjusted for the major risk factors for CAC. Multivariate models showed that lower paternal education in blacks and lower maternal occupational status in the full sample and in whites were related to higher risk of any CAC, independent of adult SES. Lower average adult education, occupation, and income were related to higher risk of any CAC, with the effects primarily in blacks. Our results are the first to show that SES, measured retrospectively and prospectively in multiple ways, is related to CAC, and the first to document the effects primarily in blacks.