Considerable evidence of an association between Chlamydia pneumoniae infections and cardiovascular disease has emerged. Animal models using genetically altered mice and hypercholesterolemic rabbits have shown a pathogenic role of C. pneumoniae in accelerating atherosclerotic plaque development. In the present study, we evaluated the effect of chronic C. pneumoniae infection on atherosclerosis in C57BL/6J mice, fed either a regular chow diet or a high fat, high cholesterol diet. Infected animals on an atherogenic diet developed significantly larger lesion areas compared with control mice at 18 weeks (2.5-fold increase; 4177+/-777 vs. 1650+/-808 microm(2); P<0.05) and 24 weeks of age (3.3-fold increase; 14139+/-4147 vs. 4298+/-869 microm(2); P<0.02). This study shows that chronic C. pneumoniae infection accelerates atherosclerotic lesion development in diet induced hypercholesterolemic mice, indicating that C. pneumoniae is a co-risk factor of hyperlipidemia in atherogenesis.