We conducted a randomized, double blind, crossover, placebo-controlled study to determine the effects of a combination therapy including plant sterols (PS) and psyllium (PSY), provided via cookies, on plasma lipids and on the size and subfraction distribution of VLDL, LDL, and HDL. Thirty-three healthy free-living individuals (11 males and 22 females), aged 35-65 y, with a BMI between 25 and 35 kg/m(2) and initial plasma LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations between 2.6 and 4.1 mmol/L (100 and 160 mg/dL), were randomly assigned to receive treatment cookies (7.68 g/d PSY and 2.6 g/d PS) or placebo cookies (0 g PSY+PS) for 4 wk. After a 3-wk washout period, subjects received the other cookies for an additional 4 wk. Plasma total cholesterol concentrations were significantly reduced for all subjects, from 5.65 +/- 0.72 mmol/L after the placebo period to 5.28 +/- 0.76 mmol/L after the PSY+PS cookie period (P < 0.01). These reductions were primarily in LDL-C, which decreased from 3.48 +/- 0.70 to 3.14 +/- 0.78 mmol/L after PSY+PS cookie consumption (P < 0.01). Intake of the PSY+PS cookie decreased the number of intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL), LDL, and HDL particles (P < 0.05) and plasma apo B concentrations (P < 0.01). The decreases in LDL and HDL particles were in the small subfractions. Because smaller LDL particles are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and because smaller HDL particles are indicative of diminished reverse cholesterol transport, we conclude that the combination therapy resulted in a less atherogenic lipoprotein profile. In addition, the evaluation of lipoprotein subfractions resulting from the action of the fiber and plant sterols in the intestinal lumen provides an insight on the secondary mechanisms of plasma LDL-C lowering.