The key 'statin trials' focussed on the beneficial effect of lowering the circulating concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). However, epidemiological surveys, mainly based on healthy populations, indicate that other lipid-related variables, such as high-density cholesterol (HDL), triglycerides (TG), dense LDL subfraction distribution, and possibly lipoprotein (a) (Lp(a)), are also predictors of vascular events. Furthermore, TG and HDL levels influenced outcome within some of the statin trials. Plasma fibrinogen levels have also been shown to be powerful predictors of vascular risk in healthy subjects and patients with established ischaemic heart disease. The fibrates exert beneficial effects on all these variables that predict vascular events. The results from recent trials, the Bezafibrate Infarction Prevention (BIP) study and the Veterans Administration HDL Intervention Trial (VA-HIT) have revived our interest in fibrates. These trials involved bezafibrate and gemfibrozil that have a relatively poor LDL-lowering capacity. Therefore, the benefits reported in BIP and VA-HIT must be attributed to actions on variables other than a reduction in LDL quantity. Ciprofibrate and fenofibrate have significantly greater LDL-lowering capacity than bezafibrate or gemfibrozil. This advantage may render them more effective, especially since they retain the additional beneficial actions associated with this class of lipid-lowering drugs.