Compounds that block hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis and secretion may be useful hypocholesterolemic agents. N-[(1,5,9)-trimethyldecyl]-4 alpha,10-dimethyl-8-aza-trans-decal-3 beta-ol (MDL 28,815) has been shown to block cholesterol biosynthesis in 3T3 fibroblasts and it causes cellular accumulation of squalene 2,3-epoxide and squalene 2,3:23,24-diepoxide (squalene epoxides), which suggests that it inhibits 2,3-oxidosqualene cyclase. The purpose of the present report was to determine whether MDL 28,815 acts only at the level of 2,3-oxidosqualene cyclase or whether other enzymes in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway are affected. HepG2 cells, grown in lipoprotein-deficient serum, were incubated with MDL 28,815 and 14C-acetate to radiolabel cholesterol and the intermediates in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway. Blockade of cholesterol biosynthesis by MDL 28,815 in these cells was associated with the accumulation of two metabolites, one of which was 5 alpha-cholest-8-en-3 beta-ol. The other metabolite was identified by a combination of ultraviolet spectrometry, gas chromatography, mass spectroscopy and analytical high-performance liquid chromatography as 5 alpha-cholest-8,14-dien-3 beta-ol. Maximal blockade of cholesterol biosynthesis was associated with the accumulation of these two metabolites and, in particular, 5 alpha-cholest-8,14-dien-3 beta-ol, rather than with squalene epoxides. These results suggest that MDL 28,815 blocks cholesterol biosynthesis primarily by the inhibition of sterol-delta 14-reductase, and possibly sterol-delta 8-ene isomerase, rather than 2,3-oxidosqualene cyclase.