BACKGROUND: Patients with COPD face an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and increased cardiac mortality. Carotid femoral pulse wave velocity (cf-PWV) is a validated measure of arterial stiffness, a well recognized predictor of adverse cardiovascular outcomes, and offers higher predictive value than classical cardiovascular risk factors. We investigated the association between COPD and arterial stiffness using cf-PWV as a noninvasive technique. METHODS: This clinical study was prospective, observational, and cross-sectional. Sixty-two subjects with stable COPD and 22 healthy controls underwent physical examination, chest x-rays, pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gas analysis, and 6-min walk test, and cf-PWV was measured via a validated tonometry system. RESULTS: The COPD subjects had greater arterial stiffness than the control subjects, and that difference was associated with lower FEV1, P-aO2, and oxygen saturation during the 6-min walk test. We observed higher cf-PWV in the COPD subjects with severe COPD than in the subjects with mild to moderate COPD. Only FEV1 was an independent predictor of cf-PWV. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that arterial stiffness is increased in subjects with more severe and advanced COPD than in those with mild to moderate COPD. Air flow limitation and hypoxemia may induce increased arterial stiffness in COPD patients.