1. The effect of clofibrate (CFB), bezafibrate (BFB), and gemfibrozil (GFB) on plasma lipoprotein (VLDL and LDL) concentration, composition and resistance to copper-induced oxidation has been studied in male Sprague-Dawley rats after a 15 day treatment. 2. Plasma triglyceride levels were reduced by CFB (41%) and BFB (39%). This effect was related to a significant reduction (67% for CFB and 56% for BFB) in the amount of circulating VLDL-protein. 3. Plasma total cholesterol was reduced by 28% and 45% in CFB- and BFB-treated animals, respectively, mainly by modification of the cholesteryl ester fraction. In contrast, GFB significantly increased total cholesterol (27%). No modification in the LDL protein or lipid content was introduced by fibrates, although GFB decreased the proportion of LDL-triglycerides, at the expense of an increase in total cholesterol. 4. The fatty acid species carried by VLDL and LDL were affected after fibrate treatment. In general, both particles showed an increase in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) (18:1) and a decrease in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) species (18:2 n-6, 20:4 n-6, 18:3 n-3, 20:5 n-3). As a consequence, the ratio of PUFA/(SFA+MUFA) for the whole lipoproteins was markedly reduced. 5. The degree of copper-induced VLDL- and LDL-oxidation was assessed by means of the analysis of lysine content, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) production and conjugated dienes formation. Lipoproteins obtained from fibrate-treated rats were more resistant to the oxidative challenge. For each lipoprotein, BFB was the most effective drug, followed by CFB and GFB. 6. The observed antioxidant effect can be ascribed to two independent phenomena produced by fibrates: the reduction of the amount of substrate for the oxidation process due to their hypolipidemic activity, and the alteration in the type of fatty acids transported by the lipoproteins towards an enrichment in species resistant to the oxidation process. 7. As similar lipoprotein fatty acid changes have been reported after fibrate treatment in human subjects, an antioxidant effect of fibrates in human therapy, independent of their well known hypolipidaemic activity, should be expected.