Aims: Cardiovascular disease caused by smoking is related to the pathophysiological burden placed on the vascular endothelium. We studied the effect of chronic cigarette smoking on arterial wave reflection (study 1) and smoking cessation on pulse wave analysis (study 2). Methods: Fifty smokers and 50 age- and sex-matched nonsmokers participated in study 1. Study 2 recruited 20 volunteers from the stop smoking clinic at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK. Systemic augmentation index (AIx) and carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) were measured using the SphygmoCor system. Brachial blood pressure (BP) (Omron 705-CP-E), AIx and PWV were recorded at a single visit in study 1. Study 2 measured these variables on 'quit day' and 4 weeks later. Results: In study 1, AIx was significantly higher in smokers than in nonsmokers (median 17.25 vs. 11.75%, P = 0.004). Multiple regression analysis showed a significant correlation between AIx and age, diastolic BP, smoking status (P < 0.001), blood glucose (P = 0.045) and weight (P = 0.049). In study 2, AIx significantly reduced after 4 weeks of abstinence in successful quitters (n = 10) compared with relapsed smokers (n = 4) (median 5.0 vs.-9.5; P = 0.013). PWV did not reach significance in either study. Conclusions: Chronic tobacco smoking is associated with endothelial dysfunction and increased AIx in subjects of a wide age range free from additional cardiovascular risk factors, which is partially reversible after 4 weeks of smoking cessation. © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.