The present study was aimed at investigating effects of hypochlorite (HOCl) modification of high density lipoproteins subclass 3 (HDL3) on their ability for cellular cholesterol removal from permanent J774 macrophages. Our findings indicate that HOCl (added as reagent or generated enzymatically by the myeloperoxidase/H2O2/Cl- system) damages apolipoprotein A-I, the major protein component of HDL3. Fatty acid analysis of native and HOCl-modified HDL3 revealed that unsaturated fatty acids in both major lipid subclasses (phospholipids and cholesteryl esters) are targets for HOCl attack. HOCl modification resulted in impaired HDL3-mediated cholesterol efflux from J774 cells, regardless of whether reagent or enzymatically generated HOCl was used to modify the lipoprotein. Decreased cholesterol efflux was also observed after HOCl modification of reconstituted HDL particles. Impairment of cholesterol efflux from macrophages was noticed at low and physiologically occurring HOCl concentrations.