Patients with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) and patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) undergoing dialysis suffer from accelerated atherosclerosis. Oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is crucial in atherogenesis. In the present study, we determined the LDL oxidation level and oxidizability of isolated LDL of 11 male patients with FH, 15 male ESRD patients on hemodialysis, and 15 age-matched male normolipidemic healthy controls. FH patients were without lipid-lowering medication for at least 4 weeks and were reassessed after 2 years of cholesterol-lowering therapy (statins). LDL oxidation level was measured by ELISA using monoclonal antibody 4E6 to oxidized LDL (oxLDL) as the capture antibody and anti-human apoB antibody for detection; results were expressed as percentage oxLDL. In FH patients and in ESRD patients on hemodialysis, both groups having a higher percentage of cardiovascular disease, mean plasma LDL oxidation levels were significantly elevated compared with controls (4.9 +/- 1.3; 3.7 +/- 2.0; 1.7 +/- 0.6%, respectively). Within each group of subjects, LDL oxidation level was not associated with history of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, in neither group was a significant correlation found between plasma concentration of LDL cholesterol and LDL oxidation level. After cholesterol-lowering therapy, LDL oxidation level in FH patients had not changed significantly and remained elevated compared with controls, despite a reduction of LDL cholesterol by 55% on average. Also, absolute plasma oxLDL concentrations, obtained by multiplying LDL oxidation level with plasma LDL cholesterol concentration, were significantly higher in FH patients before and after cholesterol-lowering therapy and in ESRD patients on hemodialysis than in controls (489 +/- 145; 189 +/- 122; 100 +/- 65; and 59 +/- 27 micro moles/L, respectively). No correlation was found between plasma oxLDL concentration and parameters of LDL oxidizability, LDL fatty acids, and LDL alpha-tocopherol content. We conclude that cholesterol-lowering therapy does not normalize elevated LDL oxidation levels in FH patients and elevated LDL oxidation level in FH and in ESRD might mirror atherosclerosis.