The purpose of the present study was to determine the effects of Mg deficiency and supplementation on the mechanical properties of the rat common carotid artery. The internal diameter and intra-arterial pressure of carotid artery were measured continuously using an echo-tracking device. Systolic, diastolic and mean intra-arterial pressures were not significantly different in Mg-deficient, -supplemented or control rats. Histological examination showed a larger cross-sectional area, increased intima-media thickness and a greater media:lumen value in carotid artery of Mg-deficient rats, indicating that Mg deficiency may directly stimulate growth and/or proliferation of arterial wall components. In addition, we observed a negative linear relationship between intima-media thickness and plasma Mg concentration, suggesting that increased Mg intake may counteract arterial wall hypertrophy. Neither Mg deficiency nor supplementation modified the arterial distensibility v. intra-arterial pressure curve or the Eincv. wall stress curve, indicating that dietary Mg intake did not modify wall stiffness in young rats. At mean intra-arterial pressure, the stress and Einc values were, however, significantly lower in Mg-deficient rats (P<0·05 in both cases); this finding could be related to the alteration in the geometry of the carotid artery. In conclusion, these findings suggest that Mg deficiency modifies the mechanical properties of the common carotid artery in young rats. Since Mg deficiency is considered a risk factor, these mechanical alterations could contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.