Decrease in the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC) has been observed in women who start dieting, but not in men. Patterns of HDLC change during intentional weight loss through 30-months of follow-up, and their association with changes in anthropometric measurements were examined in obese women (N = 112) and men (N = 100). Missing HDLC values at 6-, 12-, 18-, and 30-month follow-up (N = 16, 34, 55, and 50, respectively) due to dropout were imputed by multiple imputation. Mean ages and BMIs of subjects at baseline were 47.2 years and 34.8 kg/m(2) for women, and 50.4 years and 35.0 kg/m(2) for men. On average, participants lost weight steadily for 12 months, followed by slow regain. During the first 6 months, HDLC decreased significantly in women (-4.1 mg/dl, P = 0.0007), but not in men. Significant HDLC increases were observed in both men and women from 6- to 12-month follow-up. HDLC changes in women were positively associated with changes in hip circumference from baseline to 12-month independent of changes in triglycerides (TG), glucose, and insulin. Rapid decrease of predominantly subcutaneous fat in the femoral and gluteal area might be associated with HDLC decrease in women during initial weight loss.