It is known that the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) on the surface of vascular endothelial cells is closely related to the formation of early atherosclerotic lesions. In this study, serum soluble ICAM-1(sICAM-1) and soluble VCAM-1(sVCAM-1) were determined by sandwich ELISA both in normal healthy individuals (n = 114) and in patients with hypercholesterolemia (HC, n = 112) or ischemic heart disease (IHD, n = 38) to clarify the significance of the soluble forms of the adhesion molecules in the development of atherosclerotic diseases. IHD patients, not HC patients, showed significant elevation of sICAM-1, but not of sVCAM-1, compared with controls in age and sex-matched subjects. In addition, multiple linear regression analysis showed that sICAM-1 was correlated only to the presence of IHD but not to age and lipids. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that sICAM-1 was the most powerful independent predictor of the presence of IHD. On the other hand, sVCAM-1, not sICAM-1, was positively correlated to age. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that age was the most powerful independent predictor of the level of sVCAM-1. These data suggest that sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 are useful as indices of clinical manifestations of atherosclerosis and aging, respectively.