Serum amyloid A (SAA) proteins comprise a family of apolipoproteins coded for by at least three genes with allelic variation and a high degree of homology between species. The synthesis of certain members of the family is greatly increased in inflammation. However, SAA is not often used as an acute-phase marker despite being at least as sensitive as C-reactive protein. SAA proteins can be considered as apolipoproteins since they associate with plasma lipoproteins mainly within the high density range, perhaps through amphipathic alpha-helical structure. It is not known why certain subjects expressing SAA develop secondary systemic amyloidosis. There is still no specific function attributed to SAA; however, a popular hypothesis suggests that SAA may modulate metabolism of high density lipoproteins (HDL). This may impede the protective function of HDL against the development of atherosclerosis. The potential significance of the association between SAA and lipoproteins needs further evaluation.