Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 32) were fed diets without fiber (control) or containing 1 or 5% chicory extract or 5% inulin for 4 wk; 0.2% cholesterol was added to all diets. Rats fed chicory extract and inulin diets had significantly higher serum high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and generally lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentrations, thus significantly greater ratios of HDL/LDL cholesterol compared with the controls (P < 0.05). The serum apolipoprotein B/apolipoprotein A-1 ratio was significantly lower in rats fed diets containing chicory extract or inulin than that in rats fed fiber-free diets, due to significant reductions in apolipoprotein B concentration (P < 0.05). Greater liver lipid and triglyceride concentrations were observed in rats fed chicory extract or inulin diets compared with the controls (P < 0.05). However, liver phospholipid and cholesterol concentrations were not significantly different among groups (P > 0.05). Addition of 5% inulin to the diet resulted in greater cecal weight, whereas both 5% chicory extract and 5% inulin resulted in greater cecal propionic acid concentration compared with the controls (P < 0.05). Rats fed chicory extract and inulin had significantly greater fecal lipid, cholesterol and bile acid excretions than those fed fiber-free diets (P < 0.05). The results of this study suggest that the improved lipid metabolism observed in rats fed chicory extract (mainly inulin component) may be caused by an alteration in the absorption and/or synthesis of cholesterol, which might result from the changes in cecal fermentation, and by an increase in the fecal excretion of lipid, cholesterol and bile acid.