Background. Few lipid/atherosclerosis intervention trials have assessed the impact of cholesterol reduction on peripheral arterial disease. The 838 patients evaluated in the Program of on the Surgical Control of the Hyperlipidemias (POSCH) trial represent more than the total number of patients in the seven previously reported studies. Methods. Peripheral arterial disease in POSCH was assessed by progression of clinical disease, serial changes in the systolic blood pressure ankle/brachial index (ABI), and changes on sequential peripheral arteriograms. Results. At the time of formal closure of the POSCH trial on July 19, 1990, claudication or limb-threatening ischemia was exhibited in 72 of 417 control group (CG) patients and in 54 of 421 intervention group (IG) patients (IG relative risk [RR] 0.702, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.169 to 1.000, p = 0.049). With additional follow- up evaluation to September 30, 1994, clinical peripheral arterial disease was evident in 91 CG patients and 64 IG patients (RR 0.656, 95% CI 0.200 to 0.903, p = 0.009). At the 5-year follow-up evaluation, an ABI of less than 0.95 was present in 41 of 120 CG patients and in 24 patients, all of whom had an ABI of 0.95 or greater at baseline (RR in the IG of 0.557, 95% CI 0.360 to 0.863, p < 0.01). No appreciable differences were noted in the progression or regression of arteriographic peripheral arterial disease between the two groups. Conclusions. Effective cholesterol reduction in POSCH led to statistically significant differences between the control and the intervention groups in the development of clinically evident peripheral arterial disease and in the ABI values, but not in the peripheral arteriograms. Additional studies need to assess the correlation between peripheral arterial changes and coronary arterial changes and clinical atherosclerosis events. Intervention trials that study peripheral arterial disease have intrinsic value in the evaluation of the impact of risk factor modification on progression of atherosclerotic peripheral arterial disease.