Adhesion molecules and cytokines are involved in the pathogenesis of intimal injury in atherosclerosis but their relationship with endothelial function remains unclear. The objectives of this study were to examine the effects of atorvastatin on soluble adhesion molecules, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and brachial artery endothelial-dependent flow mediated dilatation (FMD) in patients with familial (FH) and non-familial hypercholesterolaemia (NFH). A total of 74 patients (27 FH and 47 NFH) were recruited. Fasting lipid profiles, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1), soluble vascular-cellular adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), E-selectin, IL-6 and FMD were measured at baseline, 2 weeks, 3 and 9 months post-atorvastatin treatment (FH--80 mg/day, NFH--10 mg/day). In both groups, compared to baseline, sICAM-1 levels were significantly reduced at 2 weeks, further reduced at 3 months and maintained at 9 months (P<0.0001). The IL-6 levels were significantly reduced at 3 months and 9 months compared to baseline for FH (P<0.005) and NFH (P<0.0001). In both groups, the FMD at 2 weeks was higher than baseline (P<0.005), with progressive improvement up to 9 months. FMD was negatively correlated with sICAM-1 and IL-6. In conclusion, both low and high doses of atorvastatin lead to early progressive improvement in endothelial function in patients with primary hypercholesterolaemia. sICAM-1 and IL-6 levels reflect endothelial dysfunction in these patients.