Although cigarette smoking is associated with elevation of plasma lipid levels and changes in lipoprotein distribution, it is not known whether passive smoking is associated with an alteration in lipid profiles. The relation between plasma cotinine, a marker of exposure to tobacco smoke, and lipid profiles was studied in healthy adolescents from a suburban New York high school district who were undergoing preparticipation sports physicals. Forty-four percent of the adolescents reported that one or both parents currently smoked. Eleven percent of the adolescents had plasma cotinine concentrations greater than or equal to 2.5 ng/mL, the level considered indicative of exposure. Adolescents with two smoking parents had significantly higher plasma cotinine concentrations after adjustment for other factors than adolescents whose parents did not smoke. Plasma cotinine concentration greater than or equal to 2.5 ng/mL was associated with an 8.9% greater ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P less than .003) and a 6.8% lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P less than .03). These results suggest that passive smoking, like active smoking, leads to alterations in lipid profiles predictive of an increased risk of atherosclerosis.