Scintigraphic imaging of radiolabeled low-density lipoproteins (LDL) is an interesting tool for the understanding of its role in pathomechanism of atherosclerosis. Metabolism of native LDL shows quite different pattern and kinetics as compared to that of modified LDL which is not mediated by classical LDL-receptor and accumulates in atherosclerotic lesions to form lipid-laden foam cells. Therefore we were interested whether radiolabelling of LDL induces structural modifications. We performed the iodine labeling of LDL for scintigraphic imaging of atherosclerosis by three different methods: chloramine-T (A), iodine monochloride (B) and iodogen (C). The highest radiolabelling yield of (125)I was obtained by the iodogen method (75.44+/-13.52%) and the lowest (49.01+/-12.74%) by iodine monochloride. Chloramine T showed a labeling yield of 62.82+/-6.17%. The stability of the tracer was very high with all the methods, persisting up to 6 h (98.83+/-1.2% - 91.38+/-4.7%, 15 min vs 6 h after labeling). For the first time we not only investigated the influence of radiolabelling on relative electrophoretic mobility (REM), but also various oxidation parameters such as baseline dienes (BD), thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), endogenous peroxides (POX) and oxidation resistance in the copper-mediated oxidation system (expressed as lag-time) were measured. Furthermore, oxidation- derived fragmentation of the lipoproteins was examined with SDS-PAGE electrophoresis. Data are expressed as % change compared to native LDL before radiolabeling. BD were reduced by 32% using the method (A), but increased by 33% and 47% with the monochloride (B) and iodogen method (C), respectively. The effect on lag-time was comparable for all the three methods, ranging from 25 to 36% reduction in lag-time. TBARS were strongly increased 5-7 fold by all the methods. REM was changed by all three methods. While by methods A and C we have found a moderate increase in REM by 1.75 and 2.0 fold, respectively, and no fragmentation of Apo B was observed, in contrast by method B a dramatic 4.5 fold increase in REM was found. SDS-PAGE-electrophoresis showed strong fragmentation of the apoB only for method B. We conclude, that iodine labeling of LDL induces significant modification of the molecule. Once modified, LDL no longer reflects the native molecule, exhibiting altered functional properties. Using radiolabeled LDL this fact should be considered.