Background and purpose: The objectives of this study were to assess plaque characteristics in symptomatic patients with mild and moderate carotid stenosis and to explore associations with cardiovascular risk factors and statin use. Methods: One hundred patients with transient ischemic attack or stroke with ipsilateral mild and moderate carotid stenosis underwent MR plaque imaging. Results: Patients with moderate stenosis had plaques with a higher prevalence of intraplaque hemorrhage (48.7% versus 19.7%, P=0.002) and a thin and/or ruptured fibrous cap (61.5% versus 36.1%, P=0.013), and larger lipid-rich necrotic core percentage (12.3% versus 6.8%, P=0.042) and smaller fibrous tissue percentage (82.7% versus 88.4%, P=0.024). Increasing age was positively associated with intraplaque hemorrhage (OR [per year]=1.08; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.14; P=0.011). Statin use was negatively associated with intraplaque hemorrhage (OR=0.30; 95% CI, 0.10 to 0.93; P=0.038), a thin and/or ruptured fibrous cap (OR=0.34; 95% CI, 0.13 to 0.89; P=0.028), and with lipid-rich necrotic core percentage (B=-7.91; 95% CI,-13.60 to-2.22; P=0.007). Statin use was positively associated with fibrous tissue percentage (B=7.77; 95% CI, 2.40 to 13.14; P=0.005). Conclusions: We found that symptomatic patients with moderate stenosis have a higher prevalence of complicated plaques than patients with mild stenosis. Exploratory analysis showed that increasing age was positively associated with intraplaque hemorrhage, whereas statin use was negatively associated with complicated plaque features. Copyright © 2010 American Heart Association. All rights reserved.