The effects of dietary capsanthin, the main carotenoid in paprika (Capsicum annuum), on lipid metabolism were examined. Young male Wistar rats were fed diets containing paprika powder, paprika organic solvent extract, residue of paprika extract, and purified capsanthin. Administration of purified capsanthin for 2 weeks resulted in a significant increase in plasma HDL-cholesterol (P < 0.05) without detectable differences in plasma total cholesterol and TAG concentrations. A statistically significant correlation (r 0.567; P < 0.001) was found between dietary capsanthin concentrations and plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations. Animals receiving diets containing two different capsanthin concentrations exhibited dose-dependent increases in plasma HDL-cholesterol (r 0.597; P < 0.005). While capsanthin was absent in the liver of animals fed the basal diet, it increased markedly in capsanthin-fed animals (P < 0.001). Quantitative analyses of hepatic mRNA levels revealed that capsanthin administration resulted in up-regulation of mRNA for apoA5 and lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT), without significant differences in other mRNA levels related to HDL-cholesterol metabolism. These results suggest that capsanthin had an HDL-cholesterol-raising effect on plasma, and the potential to increase cholesterol efflux to HDL particles by increasing apoA5 levels and/or enhancement of LCAT activity.