Telomere length has emerged as a marker of exposure to oxidative stress and aging. Race/ethnic differences in telomere length have been infrequently investigated. Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) was assessed 981 white, black and Hispanic men and women aged 45–84 years participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Direct measurement and questionnaire were used to assess covariates. Linear regression was used to estimate associations of LTL with race/ethnicity and age after adjustment for sex, income, education, smoking, physical activity, diet and body mass index. On average blacks and Hispanics had shorter telomeres than whites [adjusted mean differences (standard error) in T/S ratio compared to whites: −0.041 (0.018) for blacks and −0.044 (0.018) for Hispanics]. Blacks and Hispanics showed greater differences in telomere length associated with age than whites (adjusted mean differences in T/S ratio per 1 year increase in age −0.0018, −0.0047 and −0.0055 in whites, blacks and Hispanics respectively). Differences in age associations were more pronounced and only statistically significant in women. Race/ethnic differences in LTL may reflect the cumulative burden of differential exposure to oxidative stress (and its predictors) over the lifecourse.