We investigated the associations between the hepatic lipase gene (LIPC) -514C>T polymorphism and lipases, lipoproteins, and insulin sensitivity (Si) responses to exercise training. Hepatic lipase and lipoprotein lipase activities, plasma lipoprotein levels, and Si were measured in the sedentary state and post-exercise training in the Health, Risk Factors, Exercise Training, and Genetics (HERITAGE) Family Study (n=662). The LIPC -514C allele frequency was 0.516 (blacks) and 0.796 (whites). Baseline and post-exercise training hepatic lipase activities were 40% higher in CC homozygotes (P < 0.0001) in both races. Black CC homozygotes had lower baseline lipoprotein lipase activity, HDL cholesterol, HDL3, and apolipoprotein (apo)A-1 concentrations. White CC homozygotes had lower baseline HDL cholesterol, apoA-1, LDL cholesterol, and apoB levels that remained low post-exercise training. Baseline Si was not associated with the LIPC genotypes. However, training-induced improvements in Si both in blacks and whites were greater in CC homozygotes (+1.25 +/- 0.2 and +0.22 +/- 0.2 microU.min(-1).ml(-1)) than in the TT genotype (+0.27 +/- 0.3 and -0.97 +/- 0.3 microU.min(-1).ml(-1)) (P = 0.008 and P = 0.002, respectively). The LIPC -514C allele was associated with higher hepatic lipase activity in sedentary and physically active states and better Si responses to regular exercise both in black and white individuals. The benefits from an exercise program on Si are likely to be substantial in the general population given the high frequency of the LIPC -514C allele, particularly in whites.