Current data suggest that phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP) has multiple metabolic functions, however, its physiological significance in humans remains to be clarified. To provide further insight into the role of PLTP in lipoprotein metabolism, plasma PLTP activity was measured, and lipoproteins were analyzed in 134 non-diabetic individuals on a controlled diet. Insulin sensitivity index (Si) and body fat composition were also determined. Plasma PLTP activity was comparable between men (n=56) and women (n=78). However, in women but not in men, plasma PLTP activity was positively correlated with cholesterol, triglyceride, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and apolipoprotein (apo) B (r=0.38-0.45, P< or =0.001), and with body mass index (BMI), subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat (SCF, IAF) (r=0.27-0.29, P<0.02). Among the different apo B-containing lipoproteins (LpB) in women, PLTP was most highly correlated with intermediate density lipoproteins (IDL) and buoyant LDL (r=0.45-0.46, P<0.001). The correlation with IDL was significant only in women with BMI < or =27.5 kg/m(2) (n=56). In men with BMI < or =27.5 kg/m(2) (n=35), PLTP activity was significantly correlated with buoyant LDL (r=0.40, P<0.02) and high density lipoprotein (HDL) (r=0.43, P<0.01). These data provide evidence for a role of PLTP in LpB metabolism, particularly IDL and buoyant LDL. They also suggest that gender and obesity-related factors can modulate the impact of PLTP on LpB.