Gradient gel electrophoresis in conjunction with automated densitometry was applied to the identification and estimation of subpopulations of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in the ultracentrifugal d less than or equal to 1.200 fraction from human plasma. The frequency distribution of relative migration distances (RF values) of subpopulation peaks in HDL patterns of a group (n = 194) of human subjects showed five apparent maxima: two in the RF range associated with the HDL2 subclass, and three in the RF range of the HDL3 subclass. HDL within RF intervals bounding these maxima were designated (HDL2b)gge, (HDL2a)gge, (HDL3a)gge, (HDL3b)gge and (HDL3c)gge and were shown to correspond approximately to material determined by analytic ultracentrifugation within the HDL2b, HDL2a and HDL3 components. Material represented by the HDL2a component, as resolved by three-component analysis of the ultracentrifugal Schlieren pattern, was found by gradient gel electrophoresis to be polydisperse in particle size. Mean hydrated densities and particle sizes of HDL corresponding to those with RF values of the frequency maxima were: 1.085 g/ml and 10.57 nm in the (HDL2b)gge; 1.115 g/ml and 9.16 nm in the (HDL2a)gge; 1.136 g/ml and 8.44 nm in the (HDL3a)gge; 1.154 g/ml and 7.97 nm in the (HDL3b)gge; and 1.171 g/ml and 7.62 nm in the (HDL3c)gge. The mean hydrated density values of the subpopulations within the (HDL3a)gge and (HDL3b)gge were comparable to those of the HDL3L and HDL3D components recently characterized by zonal ultracentrifugation. High order and statistically significant correlations between densitometric scans of the (HDL2b)gge, (HDL2a)gge and (HDL3)gge material, as obtained from gradient gels, and plasma concentrations of the HDL2b, HDL2a and HDL3 components, as obtained from analytic ultracentrifugation, were demonstrated.