Numerous studies have reported cyclic fluctuations in lipids and lipoproteins as a function of the phase of the menstrual cycle. However, the reported patterns are quite variable and have led to an unclear picture of the influence of the menstrual cycle on the variability of lipids, and hence of the role of the menstrual cycle phase in the interpretation of serum lipids for premenopausal women. As part of the DELTA Study (Dietary Effects on Lipoproteins and Thrombogenic Activity), we evaluated the cyclic variation of circulating lipids and lipoproteins in 39 premenopausal women and compared intraindividual variances in these women, 18 postmenopausal women, and 46 men under conditions of tight dietary control. Cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, triglyceride, apolipoproteins A-1 (apo A-1) and B-100 (apo B-100), and lipoprotein (a) [Lp(a)] all demonstrated cycling in the premenopausal women. However, the observed cycling accounts for only a small fraction of the total biologic variability of lipids in premenopausal women. The magnitude of total intraindividual variability based on coefficient of variation (CV) for these lipids in premenopausal women (CV, 4% to 8.1%) was similar to that found for men (CV, 4.3% to 9.1%) and for postmenopausal women (CV, 3.7% to 6.7%). These results suggest that protocols for screening and monitoring of serum lipids in premenopausal women need not differ from those used for men or postmenopausal women.