Mean arterial pressure drives pressure-natriuresis and determines arterial structure and function. In a population sample, we investigated the relation between arterial characteristics and renal sodium handling as assessed by the clearance of endogenous lithium. We ultrasonographically measured diameter, cross-sectional compliance (CC) and distensibility (DC) of the carotid, brachial, and femoral arteries in 1069 untreated subjects (mean age: 41.6 years; 50.1% women; 18.8% hypertensive subjects). While accounting for covariates and standardizing for the sodium excretion rate in both sexes, CC and DC of the femoral artery increased with higher fractional distal sodium reabsorption. Differences associated with a 1-SD change in fractional distal reabsorption of sodium were 51.7 mm(2)/kPax10(-3) (95% CI: 23.9 to 79.5; P=0.0002) and 0.56x10(-3)/kPa (95% CI: 0.17 to 0.94; P=0.004) for femoral CC and DC, respectively. In women as well as in men, a 1-SD increment in fractional proximal sodium reabsorption was associated with decreases in femoral and brachial diameter, amounting to 111.6 mum (95% CI: 38.2 to 185.1; P=0.003) and 52.5 mum (95% CI: 10.0 to 94.9; P=0.016), respectively. There was no consistent association between the properties of the elastic carotid artery and renal sodium handling. In conclusion, higher fractional sodium reabsorption in the distal nephron is associated with higher femoral CC and DC, and higher proximal sodium reabsorption is associated with decreased brachial and femoral diameters. These findings demonstrate that there might be an influence of renal sodium handling on arterial properties or vice versa or that common mechanisms might influence both arterial and renal function.