This randomized, double-blind study was undertaken to compare the efficacy and tolerability of policosanol and Octa-60 in patients with type II hypercholesterolemia. After 4 weeks on a diet, 110 patients were randomized to policosanol or Octa-60 5 mg tablets once a day for 5 weeks. The dose was then doubled to 10 mg/day for the next 5 weeks. Policosanol 5 and 10 mg/day significantly lowered low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) (p<0.0001 and p<0.00001), the main efficacy variable, by 18.6% and 30.2%, while Octa-60 significantly reduced (p<0.05) LDL-C by 10.0% at study completion only. The frequency of policosanol patients reaching reductions of LDL-C > or = 15% after 5 mg/day (37/55; 67.3%) and 10 mg/day (47/55; 88.7%) was greater (p<0.01 and p<0.01) than in the Octa-60 group, which was 5/55 (9.1%) and 20/55 (36.4%). Likewise, the frequency of patients reaching LDL-C values of <3.4 mmol/l at study completion was greater (p<0.001) in the policosanol group (39/55, 70.9%) than in the Octa-60 group (6/55, 10.9%). Policosanol 5 and 10 mg/day significantly lowered (p<0.00001) total cholesterol (TC) (13.4% and 20.4%), LDL-C/high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) (22.1% and 37.0%) and TC/HDL-C (17.2% and 28.2%). Octa-60 at 10 mg/day lowered (p<0.05) TC (8.7%), LDL-C/HDL-C (12.6%) and TC/HDL-C (9.4%). HDL-C was increased (p<0.001 and 0.0001) by policosanol 5 and 10 mg/day (5.6% and 12.5%) but was unchanged by Octa-60. In both groups, triglycerides remained unchanged. Both treatments were safe and well tolerated. Octa-60, but not policosanol, significantly increased glucose and alanine aminotransferase, but individual values were within the normal range. Four patients (two from each group) discontinued the trial, but only one (in the Octa-60 group) did so because of an adverse event (AE) (skin rash). Overall, three patients (all from the Octa-60 group) reported AEs. In conclusion, original policosanol at 5 and 10 mg/day, but not Octa 60, was effective in patients with type II hypercholesterolemia. Thus, policosanol reached the efficacy criterion for LDL-C reduction in both steps, while Octa-60 failed to reach this goal. In addition, policosanol was better tolerated than Octa-60.