Tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) is the main inhibitor of tissue factor (TF)-mediated coagulation. In atherosclerotic plaques TFPI co-localizes with TF, where it is believed to play an important role in attenuating TF activity. Findings in animal models such as TFPI knockout models and gene transfer models are consistent on the role of TFPI in arterial thrombosis as they reveal an active role for TFPI in attenuating arterial thrombus formation. In addition, ample experimental evidence exists indicating that TFPI has inhibitory effects on both smooth muscle cell migration and proliferation, both which are recognized as important pathological features in atherosclerosis development. Nonetheless, the clinical relevance of these antithrombotic and atheroprotective effects remains unclear. Paradoxically, the majority of clinical studies find increased instead of decreased TFPI antigen and activity levels in atherothrombotic disease, particularly in atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease (CAD). Increased TFPI levels in cardiovascular disease might result from complex interactions with established cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypercholesterolemia, diabetes and smoking. Moreover, it is postulated that increased TFPI levels reflect either the amount of endothelial perturbation and platelet activation, or a compensatory mechanism for the increased procoagulant state observed in cardiovascular disease. In all, the prognostic value of plasma TFPI in cardiovascular disease remains to be established. The current review focuses on TFPI in clinical studies of asymptomatic and symptomatic atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease and ischemic stroke, and discusses potential atheroprotective actions of TFPI.