Phytoestrogens are increasingly incorporated into the diet of menopausal women. However, there are limited data on the efficacy of flaxseed on the consequences of estrogen deficiency in menopausal women. The purpose of the study was to assess the effects of flaxseed incorporation into the diet of healthy menopausal women. One hundred and ninety-nine menopausal women were randomly assigned to consume 40 g flaxseed/d (n = 101) or wheat germ placebo (n = 98) for 12 months. At baseline and at month 12, serum levels of lipids, bone mineral density (BMD), and menopausal symptoms were evaluated. Statistical analysis was performed under the intention to treat principle. Flaxseed reduced serum total (-0.20 +/- 0.51 mmol/liter; P = 0.012) and high-density lipoprotein (-0.08 +/- 0.24 mmol/liter; P = 0.031) cholesterol concentrations compared with wheat germ placebo. BMD did not differ significantly between the two arms. Both flaxseed and wheat germ reduced (P < 0.0001) the severity scores of menopausal symptoms, but no statistical difference was found between the two arms. Our findings suggest that 1-yr incorporation of flaxseed into the diet produced a favorable, but not clinically significant, effect on blood cholesterol and caused no significant change in BMD or symptoms in healthy menopausal women.