The efficacy of atorvastatin, a new hydroxymethylglutaryl (HMG)-CoA reductase inhibitor, in reducing serum lipid levels, modifying lipoprotein composition, and suppressing cholesterol synthesis was evaluated in patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (homozygous FH) undergoing LDL-apheresis therapy. Atorvastatin was given in escalating doses (10, 20, and 40 mg/day) to nine patients with homozygous FH. Five of nine patients responded well to atorvastatin; four of these patients were receptor-defective and the remaining one was receptor-negative. The change in LDL-cholesterol in the receptor-defective patients averaged -20.6% compared to the baseline level at the highest dose of atorvastatin. Of five receptor-negative type patients, only one showed good response to atorvastatin therapy with a LDL-cholesterol reduction of 14.9%. Although the other four receptor-negative patients did not show a change in LDL-cholesterol, all of them exhibited a considerable increase in HDL-cholesterol. All patients showed reduced urinary excretion of mevalonic acid, suggesting that atorvastatin decreases LDL-cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol biosynthesis even where LDL-receptor activity is not present. Atorvastatin also decreased serum triglycerides in both receptor-negative and defective patients, especially in the latter. As cholesterol level rebounds quickly after each apheresis procedure, a combination therapy using atorvastatin and apheresis may increase the efficacy of the apheresis treatment, improving cost-benefit effectiveness by reducing the frequency of the apheresis treatment.