Addition of leumedin, N-[9H-(2,7-dimethylfluorenyl-9-methoxy) carbon]-L-leucine at 30-60 microM together with LDL almost completely prevented the induction of monocyte chemotactic protein mRNA, reduced monocyte chemotactic protein 1 levels by 84%, and inhibited monocyte migration into the subendothelial space of cocultures of human aortic wall cells by < or = 98%. LDL incubated with leumedin formed a stable complex that remained intact even after refloating in an ultracentrifuge. Leumedin at 50 microM did not change conjugated diene formation during coculture modification of LDL or Cu++ catalyzed oxidation of LDL. Unlike LDL from control rabbits, LDL isolated from rabbits that were injected with 20 mg/kg leumedin was remarkably resistant to modification by the coculture and did not induce monocyte migration to a significant degree. Moreover, HDL isolated from rabbits injected with leumedin was far more effective in protecting against LDL modification by the artery wall cocultures than HDL from control rabbits. We conclude that leumedins can associate with lipoproteins in vivo, rendering LDL resistant to biological modification and markedly amplifying the protective capacity of HDL against in vitro LDL oxidation by artery wall cells.