The objective was to assess the prevalence of subclavian artery stenosis (SS) in four cohorts (two free-living and two clinical populations) and determine both risk factors for this condition and the association with other cardiovascular conditions. The prevalence of SS in the general population is unknown, and its association with risk factors and other cardiovascular diseases is not well-established. A total of 4,223 subjects (2,975 from two free-living cohorts and 1,248 from two clinical cohorts) were included in this cross-sectional analysis. Subclavian artery stenosis was defined as > or =15 mm Hg interarm pressure difference. The prevalence of SS was 1.9% in the free-living cohorts and 7.1% in the clinical cohorts; SS was significantly (p < 0.05) associated with past smoking (odds ratio [OR] = 1.80), current smoking (OR = 2.61), and higher levels of systolic blood pressure (OR = 1.90 per 20 mm Hg). Higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol were inversely and significantly associated with SS (OR = 0.87 per 10 mg/dl). In regression analyses relating SS to other cardiovascular diseases, the only significant finding was with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) (OR = 5.11, p < 0.001). Significant SS is present in approximately 2% of the free-living population and 7% of the clinical population. Additionally, SS is correlated with current and past smoking histories, systolic blood pressure, HDL levels (inversely), and the presence of PAD. These findings suggest that bilateral brachial blood pressure measurements should routinely be performed in patients with an elevated risk profile, both to screen for SS, and to avoid missing a hypertension or PAD diagnosis because of unilateral pressure measurement in an obstructed arm.