Elevated serum cholesterol levels have been shown to be associated with premature atherosclerosis in adolescents and young adults. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends cholesterol screening for all adults aged 20 years or older, but normative data on the college-age population are limited. At a university where lipid profiles are made available to students in selected health/wellness courses, the authors analyzed and summarized lipid profiles on 1,088 undergraduates. Mean total cholesterol levels were similar for men (165 +/- 33 mg/dL) and women (168 +/- 27 mg/dL). The men, however, had significantly lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and higher low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol than the women. One hundred twenty-one students (11.1% of the sample) had elevated serum cholesterol levels (LDL-C > or = 130 mg/dL). Cholesterol screening can be used as an educational tool for college students to reinforce the link between lipid levels and health habits.