Triglyceride (TG) enrichment of HDL resulting from cholesteryl ester transfer protein-mediated exchange with TG-rich lipoproteins may enhance the lipolytic transformation and subsequent metabolic clearance of HDL particles in hypertriglyceridemic states. The present study investigates the effect of TG enrichment of HDL on the clearance of HDL-associated apo A-I in humans. HDL was isolated from plasma of six normolipidemic men (mean age: 29.7 +/- 2.7 years) in the fasting state and after a five-hour intravenous infusion with a synthetic TG emulsion, Intralipid. Intralipid infusion resulted in a 2.1-fold increase in the TG content of HDL. Each tracer was then whole-labeled with 125I or 131I and injected intravenously into the subject. Apo A-I in TG-enriched HDL was cleared 26% more rapidly than apo A-I in fasting HDL. A strong correlation between the Intralipid-induced increase in the TG content of HDL and the increase in HDL apo A-I fractional catabolic rate reinforced the importance of TG enrichment of HDL in enhancing its metabolic clearance. HDL was separated further into lipoproteins containing apo A-II (LpAI:AII) and those without apo A-II (LpAI). Results revealed that the enhanced clearance of apo A-I from TG-enriched HDL could be largely attributed to differences in the clearance of LpAI but not LpAI:AII. This is, to our knowledge, the first direct demonstration in humans that TG enrichment of HDL enhances the clearance of HDL apo A-I from the circulation. This phenomenon could provide an important mechanism explaining how HDL apo A-I and HDL cholesterol are lowered in hypertriglyceridemic states.