Coronary artery ectasia (CAE) is defined as a localized or diffuse non-obstructive lesion of the epicardial coronary arteries with a luminal dilation exceeding 1.5-fold the diameter of the normal adjacent arterial segment. The incidence of CAE has been reported to range between 2% and 4%, which might be an overestimation of the true frequency. The coincidence of CAE with other systemic vascular dilatations has suggested that the mechanism underlying CAE is not only localized to coronary arteries, but also to other vascular compartments such as aorta or peripheral veins. Although the pathophysiology of CAE remains largely unknown, it was supposed to represent a variant of coronary atherosclerosis. This review focuses on this controversy of whether CAE and coronary artery disease (CAD) are two manifestations of the same underlying process. There are clear differences between CAD and CAE with respect to cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes mellitus, and pathogenic steps in disease progress such as inflammation or extracellular matrix remodeling. As this review will underscore, the current knowledge of the field is insufficient to finally clarify the causative interrelation between CAE and CAD. The clinical course and treatment of CAE mainly depends on its coexistence with CAD. When coexisting with CAD, the prognosis and treatment of CAE are the same as for CAD alone. In isolated CAE, prognosis is better and anti-platelet drugs are the mainstay of treatment. Surgical treatment can be considered in selected patients. For clarifying the mechanism underlying CAE, additional clinical, histopathological and pathophysiological investigations are required. In fact, every patient with CAE should be evaluated systematically for pathological changes in other vascular territories, both in the arterial system as well as in the venous system, which might occur in the disease process.