Chronic vitamin C deficiency was induced in guinea pigs by restricting their vitamin C intake to 0.5 mg daily. This was just sufficient to prevent rapidly fatal scurvy and 55 per cent of the animals survived. In 16 weeks their serum ascorbic acid (SAA) fell to 0.16 +/- 0.06 mg/dl as compared to 0.73 +/- 0.11 in control animals receiving 5 mg vitamin C daily. There was a marked increase in serum cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, VLDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and total lipids. HDL-cholesterol was, however, decreased resulting in a shift of the LDL/HDL ratio from 1.13 +/- 0.16 in the control to 5.91 +/- 1.70 in the low vitamin C group. Cholesterol feeding (100 mg/day) by itself lowered the SAA significantly, besides producing hyperlipidemia. When the vitamin C intake was reduced to only 0.5 mg/day, the effects of cholesterol feeding were exaggerated; the magnitude of hyperlipidemia was now significantly greater than with simple cholesterol feeding. The LDL/HDL ratio rose to 19.02 +/- 3.32 from 1.13 +/- 0.16 in the normal guinea pigs. Chronic vitamin C deficiency seems to affect the blood lipid profile unfavourably which could promote atherogenesis.