Abstract-cell-mediated lipoprotein oxidation may be due to generation of non-protein thiols (NP-SH) from cystine with formation of oxidizing species. However, NP-SH, especially GSH, may also exert antioxidant effects in vitro and in vivo. To further investigate whether vascular NP-SH could be prooxidants or antioxidants in atherosclerosis, we have correlated the aortic content of NP-SH with that of lipoperoxides in 10 rabbits fed on a fat-enriched atherogenic diet for 9 weeks. As compared to 7 control rabbits, aortic NP-SH and lipoperoxides were significantly increased in the fat-fed animals. The levels of NP-SH were strongly and inversely correlated with those of lipid peroxidation in the atherosclerotic aorta (r(s) -0.92, P < 0.0001 for thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, and r(s) -0.80, P < 0.01 for fluorescent damage products of lipid peroxidation). A similar trend was evident also in the control rabbits (r(s) -0.60 for both indices of lipid peroxidation). Thus, the present data suggest that vascular NP-SH exert significant antioxidant-antilipoperoxidative effects in vivo especially in fat diet-related atherogenic conditions.