Lovastatin, a lipid-lowering drug which inhibits cholesterol synthesis, was administered to genetically hyperlipidaemic rabbits from the age of 2 months. Twenty rabbits were selected with similar plasma cholesterol levels and divided into matched treatment and control groups. The treated animals showed a 60% decrease in plasma cholesterol due to reduced levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) and intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL). Levels of other lipoproteins remained unchanged. In untreated animals cholesterol levels in plasma, LDL and IDL increased with age. The area of aortic atherosclerosis-like lesions was quantified after 2-10.5 months of treatment. At each time point the extent of arterial disease was profoundly less in treated than in untreated animals. The findings demonstrate that primary prevention of arterial lesions resembling human atherosclerosis (increased amounts of fibrous tissue, smooth muscle cell proliferation, foam cell formation and necrosis at the base of the plaques) results from early effective reduction of elevated plasma lipids by lovastatin in this rabbit strain.