Hypercholesterolemia and lipid peroxidation play complementary roles in atherosclerosis. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus L., Asteraceae) leaf extract (ALE), rich in antioxidants, has cholesterol-reducing effect. We investigated the effect of ALE on serum and hepatic lipid levels and pro-oxidant-antioxidant balance in the liver and heart of hypercholesterolemic rats. Rats were fed on 4% (w/w) cholesterol and 1% cholic acid (w/w) supplemented diet for 1 month. ALE (1.5 g/kg/day) was given by gavage during the last 2 weeks. High cholesterol (HC) diet caused significant increases in serum and liver cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It increased malondialdehyde (MDA) and diene conjugate (DC) levels in both tissues. Hepatic vitamin E levels and hepatic and cardiac glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activities decreased, but superoxide dismutase and glutathione transferase activities, glutathione, and vitamin C levels remained unchanged due to HC diet. Serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels and ratio of cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol decreased in ALE plus HC-treated rats, but liver cholesterol and triglyceride levels remained unchanged. Significant decreases in hepatic and cardiac MDA and DC levels and increases in hepatic vitamin E and GSH-Px activities were observed in ALE-treated hypercholesterolemic rats. Our results indicate that ALE decreases serum lipids and hypercholesterolemia-induced pro-oxidant state in both tissues.