Postmenopausal women are at an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD). This increase is due primarily to elevated cholesterol concentrations accompanying the loss of endogenous estrogen secretion. Recently, the consumption of soy foods has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol concentrations. Phytoestrogens (PE) have been proposed as the responsible agents of the hypocholesterolemic effect of soy foods. However, few studies have investigated the effect of PE supplementation on serum lipoproteins. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the effects of PE supplementation (150 mg) on serum lipids and lipoproteins in moderately hypercholesterolemic, elderly, postmenopausal women. Thirty-six subjects were randomized into two groups and received either a 150-mg PE supplement/d (n = 20) or a placebo (n = 16). Serum samples obtained at baseline and 2 months were analyzed for total triacylglycerol, total cholesterol, and high density lipoprotein cholesterol using standard Lipid Research Clinic procedures. In addition, total triacylglycerol and cholesterol were measured after 6 months of treatment. The t test and ANOVA were employed to compare the two groups. The results (mean +/- SEM) indicated no significant differences in total triacylglycerol (1.3 +/- 0.2 vs. 1.2 +/- 0.2 mmol/liter), total cholesterol (6.4 +/- 0.4 vs. 6.5 +/- 0.2 mmol/liter), or high density lipoprotein cholesterol (1.0 +/- 0.1 vs. 1.0 +/- 0.1 mmol/liter) between the placebo and the PE groups, respectively, after 2 months of treatment. Moreover, total triacylglycerol and cholesterol remained unchanged after 6 months. Our findings suggest that PE supplementation with 150 mg/d over a 6-month period does not significantly alter serum lipoproteins in postmenopausal women and, therefore, may not effectively reduce the risk of CAD in this population.