BACKGROUND: This study was designed to evaluate the effects of a 24-month period of moderate exercise on serum lipids in menopausal women. METHODS: The subjects (40--60 y) were randomly divided into an exercise group (n = 14) and a control group (n = 13). The women in the exercise group were asked to participate in a 90-minute physical education class once a week and to record their daily steps as measured by a pedometer for 24 months. RESULTS: Mean of daily steps was significantly higher in the exercise group from about 6,800 to over 8,500 steps (P < 0.01). In the control group, the number of daily steps ranged from 5,700 to 6,800 steps throughout the follow-up period. A significant interaction between the exercise group and the control group in the changes og total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC) and TC : HDLC ratio could be observed (P < 0.05). By multiple regression analysis, the number of daily steps was related to HDLC and TC : HDLC levels after 24 months, and the changes in TC and HDLC concentrations. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that daily exercise as well as increasing the number of daily steps can improve the profile of serum lipids.