BACKGROUND AND AIMS There is clinical trial evidence that only early, intensive risk factor control can reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality in type 2 diabetes (T2DM). However, there is little information regarding preclinical atherosclerosis at diabetes diagnosis. We assessed carotid atherosclerosis in new-onset T2DM and control individuals without prior CVD. METHODS AND RESULTS In a cross-sectional case-control study, we determined intima-media thickness (IMT) and plaque (IMT ≥1.5 mm) by ultrasound at all carotid sites in new-onset T2DM patients and controls. We assessed 106 T2DM patients, median age 62 years, 46% women, 19% smokers, 54% with hypertension, and 41% with dyslipidemia and 99 non-diabetic subjects matched by age, sex, and cardiovascular risk factors. Compared to controls, T2DM patients had higher common carotid artery (CCA)-IMT (median 0.725 vs. 0.801 mm, p = 0.01), bulb-IMT (0.976 vs. 1.028 mm, p = 0.12), and internal carotid artery (ICA)-IMT (0.727 vs. 0.802 mm, p = 0.04). The prevalence of total plaque (60% vs. 72%, p = 0.06), ICA plaque (20% vs. 42%, p < 0.01), and harboring ≥3 plaques (16% vs. 35% p < 0.01) was also higher in T2DM. Plaque score (sum of maximum plaque heights) was also higher (p < 0.01) in T2DM. Diabetic women showed more advanced carotid atherosclerosis than diabetic men when they were compared with their respective non-diabetic counterparts. CONCLUSIONS There is a high prevalence of preclinical atherosclerosis (carotid plaque presence and burden) in new-onset T2DM subjects, especially in women. Early, still reversible, preclinical atherosclerosis may explain in part why early intervention is effective to prevent CVD in this patient population.