Polyphenols exert beneficial effects in atherosclerosis. The crucial step in atherosclerosis is the recruitment of monocytes to the subendothelial space, induced by endothelial adhesion molecules through the activation of factors such as NF-κB. We studied the effect of a dealcoholised lager beer (DLB) and a dealcoholised dark beer (DDB) on atherosclerotic lesions, and the underlying mechanisms. Dealcoholised beers were administered in the diet (42 ml/kg body weight per d) to 4-week-old male apoE knockout (apoE - / - ) mice for 20 weeks. The atherosclerotic lesions in the thoracic aorta were reduced by 44 % (P = 0·003) and 51 % (P < 0·001) in DLB- and DDB-treated mice, respectively. Also, the mRNA expressions of the endothelial adhesion molecules in the total aorta were decreased: P-selectin showed a 17 % (P = 0·004) reduction in DDB-treated mice; vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) was decreased by 20 % (P = 0·012) and 32 % (P = 0·001) in DLB- and DDB-treated mice, respectively; intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) showed a 14 % (P = 0·014) reduction in DLB-treated mice. The protein expressions of these molecules and NF-κB were studied in the aortic root. P-selectin was decreased by 37 % (P = 0·012) in DDB-treated mice; VCAM-1 was reduced by 48 % (P = 0·001) and 54 % (P < 0·001) in DLB- and DDB-treated mice, respectively; ICAM-1 was decreased by 25 % (P = 0·028) and 30 % (P = 0·018) in DLB- and DDB-treated mice, respectively; NF-κB was reduced by 46 % (P = 0·042) in DDB-treated mice. In conclusion, dealcoholised beers protected apoE - / - mice against atherosclerosis, through the modulation of endothelial adhesion molecules, possibly induced by NF-κB.