Aims The sensitivity of standard carotid ultrasound and colour Doppler for the detection of subclinical atherosclerotic plaques is suboptimal. The aim of this study is to assess whether contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) added to standard carotid ultrasound improves the detection of subclinical atherosclerosis. Methods and results Carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) measurement, standard carotid ultrasound including colour Doppler imaging, and CEUS were performed in 100 asymptomatic patients with one or more risk factors for atherosclerosis. CEUS was performed using intravenous administration of SonoVue (TM) contrast agent (Bracco S.p.A., Milan, Italy). CIMT, standard ultrasound, colour Doppler, and CEUS were reviewed by two independent observers. Standard ultrasound, colour Doppler, and CEUS were sc Conclusion CEUS has an incremental value for the detection of subclinical atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries. Atherosclerotic plaques which were only detected with CEUS and not with standard carotid ultrasound and colour Doppler imaging were predominantly hypoechoic.