Anatomical adipose tissue distribution patterns are reported to relate to plasma lipids and risk of cardiovascular disease. Waist to hip girth ratios (WHR) and subscapular 10 triceps skinfold thickness ratios (STR) were compared with percent body fat and body mass index values as correlates of plasma lipids and lipoprotein cholesterol and serum lipoprotein subfraction mass by analytic ultracentrifugation in 81 sedentary middle-aged men in a typical range of adiposity. WHR was significantly and positively correlated with plasma concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol, and low and very low density lipoprotein (LDL and VLDL) cholesterol and inversely correlated with high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. STR followed these trends, though less strongly, in relation to plasma triglycerides, VLDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. Pronounced differences were found between regional adiposity patterns in their relationships to lipoprotein subfractions, as determined by analytic ultracentrifugation. WHR was negatively correlated with HDL2 (flotation rate F(1.2) 3.5-9), positively with small LDL (S.f 0-7), intermediate density lipoprotein (S.f 12-20), and VLDL (S.f 20-400), while STR correlated with larger LDL (S.f 7-12) and larger VLDL (S.f 60-400). Overall adiposity was not significantly associated with plasma lipoprotein levels after adjusting for regional adiposity patterns. Plasma sex hormone-binding globulin and percent free testosterone were associated with regional adiposity, but did not account for the correlations between WHR and lipoproteins. WHR and STR are measures of fat distribution that correlate with plasma lipoprotein profiles consistent with cardiovascular disease risk and have different relationships to lipoprotein mass subfractions.