Electron microscopic evidence of early atherogenic changes in the aorta and coronary arteries was obtained in normal fed, conscious, unrestrained rats receiving electrical stimulation in the lateral hypothalamus for periods of up to 62 days. Hypertension and hypercholesterolemia were not etiologic factors. In view of recent observations concerning neuropsychological mechanisms in human ischemic heart disease, the findings raise the possibility that the human central nervous system has a role in the development of atherosclerotic lesions.