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Physicians now understand the generation of atherosclerotic plaques as a dynamic process involving an interchange between cells of the artery wall, inflammatory cells recruited from blood, and risk factors such as lipoproteins. This animation reviews current thinking about how risk factors alter the biology of the artery wall and can incite initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. It also discusses the importance of inflammation in these processes and portrays the role of inflammation in plaque disruption and thrombosis. Finally, this animation depicts the concept of stabilization of atherosclerotic plaques by interventions such as lipid lowering. (From P Libby: Changes and challenges in cardiovascular protection: A special CME activity for physicians. Created under an unrestricted educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc. Copyright © 2002, Cardinal Health; used with permission.)