This investigation sought to identify gaps in patients' knowledge about hypercholesterolemia and lipid-lowering therapy in an inner-city US population. Chart reviews and interviews were conducted for drug-treated hypercholesterolemic patients at 3 hospital-based cardiology practices in Bronx, NY. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess whether race/ethnicity, sex, and age were predictors of knowledge. Subjects (n = 467, age 65.3 years) were 55% female, 38% Hispanic, 32% black, and 25% white. Most recognized hypercholesterolemia as a cause of heart disease (88%) and stroke (76%), although older subjects (>70 years) and Hispanic subjects, particularly non-English speakers, were significantly less likely to know about cardiovascular disease risks associated with hypercholesterolemia. Only 14% recalled their recent cholesterol levels, and recall was significantly lower among black, Hispanic, and older subjects. Overall, 31% expected to require lipid-lowering medications indefinitely in the future, while 66% did not know how long they would need to continue using medications. Blacks and Hispanics were significantly less likely to believe that they would need to continue taking medications indefinitely. Achieved lipid levels and self-reported medication adherence were relatively favorable although were unrelated to knowledge levels. In summary, among hypercholesterolemic patients in an urban population, relatively few knew their own cholesterol levels or expected to require medications indefinitely in the future. Older patients, black and Hispanic patients, and non-English speakers were significantly less likely to have accurate knowledge about hypercholesterolemia. Therefore, patient and community education efforts targeted to specific populations may lead to improved management of hypercholesterolemia in inner-city regions.