Chronic kidney disease (CKD), and particularly kidney failure, is associated with accelerated atherosclerosis and approximately a 20-fold increased risk of cardiovascular death. The majority of these patients die from complications directly attributed to atherosclerosis and their life expectancy is decreased. Established risk factors are involved in the pathogenesis of this phenomenon. Age, gender, smoking, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and diabetes mellitus are among the established risk factors. Inflammation, qualitative lipid disorders (e.g. small dense low density lipoprotein), vascular calcification and oxidative stress represent emerging risk factors. The precise mechanism of atherosclerosis in patients with kidney failure is not yet known. CKD might represent a clinical model of atherogenesis. Thus, the evidence obtained from investigating “renal” atherogenesis could be of interest in improving our understanding of this disease process in the non-renal population. We review the relationship between “renal” and non-renal atherosclerosis focusing on pathogenesis, risk factors and clinical events and how they interact with treatment options. Overall, the “later” stages of CKD may eventually be considered as a coronary heart disease equivalent condition.