Apolipoprotein E (apoE) produced by macrophages in the arterial wall protects against atherosclerosis, but the regulation of its secretion by these cells is poorly understood. Here we investigated the contribution of the adenosine triphosphate binding cassette transporters ABCA1 and ABC8 to the secretion of apoE from either primary human monocyte-derived macrophages (HMDM) or human THP1 macrophages. During incubations of up to 6 h, apoE secretion from both THP1 macrophages and HMDM was stimulated by 8-Br-cAMP, which activates ABCA1 expression. The putative ABCA1 inhibitor glyburide and antisense oligonucleotides directed against ABCA1 mRNA significantly reduced apoE secretion from THP1 macrophages and HMDM. Antisense oligonucleotides directed against ABC8 mRNA also inhibited apoE secretion, although this inhibition was less pronounced and consistent than in the case of ABCA1. ApoE secretion from HMDM of ABCA1-deficient patients with Tangier disease was also decreased. ApoE mRNA expression was not affected by inhibition of ABCA1 or ABC8 in normal HMDM or the lack of functional ABCA1 in HMDM from Tangier disease patients. Inhibition of ABCA1 in HMDM prevented the occurrence of anti-apoE-immunoreactive granular structures in the plasma membrane. We conclude that ABCA1 and, to a lesser extent, ABC8 both promote secretion of apoE from human macrophages.