Ubiquinol-10 (CoQH2, the reduced form of coenzyme Q10) is a potent antioxidant present in human low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Supplementation of humans with ubiquinone-10 (CoQ, the oxidized coenzyme) increased the concentrations of CoQH2 in plasma and in all of its lipoproteins. Intake of a single oral dose of 100 or 200 mg CoQ increased the total plasma coenzyme content by 80 or 150%, respectively, within 6 h. Long-term supplementation (three times 100 mg CoQ/day) resulted in 4-fold enrichment of CoQH2 in plasma and LDL with the latter containing 2.8 CoQH2 molecules per LDL particle (on day 11). Approx. 80% of the coenzyme was present as CoQH2 and the CoQH2/CoQ ratio was unaffected by supplementation, indicating that the redox state of coenzyme Q10 is tightly controlled in the blood. Oxidation of LDL containing various [CoQH2] by a mild, steady flux of aqueous peroxyl radicals resulted immediately in very slow formation of lipid hydroperoxides. However, in each case the rate of lipid oxidation increased markedly with the disappearance of 80-90% CoQH2. Moreover, the cumulative radical dose required to reach this 'break point' in lipid oxidation was proportional to the amount of CoQH2 incorporated in vivo into the LDL. Thus, oral supplementation with CoQ increases CoQH2 in the plasma and all lipoproteins thereby increasing the resistance of LDL to radical oxidation.