In adult male rats fed on a cholesterol-free synthetic diet, plasma cholesterol concentrations were lowest with oat bran, intermediate with cellulose and highest with wheat bran. Plasma triacylglycerols (TAG) were similar with wheat bran and cellulose but higher with oat bran. The concentrations and pools of caecal volatile fatty acids (VFA) were lowest with cellulose and equally higher with oat bran and wheat bran. Plasma VFA concentrations in the hepatic portal vein reflected those in caecal digesta and were unrelated to plasma cholesterol. Feeding oat bran after extraction with n-pentane gave plasma cholesterol concentrations similar to that found with wheat bran. Reconstitution of oat bran with extracted lipids did not restore the cholesterol-lowering effect. Addition of the extracted material to a wheat-bran diet had no effect on plasma cholesterol. Plasma TAG were higher with the oat bran and reconstituted-oatbran diets than with wheat-bran or cellulose diets. However, extracted oat bran+safflower oil gave similar TAG concentrations to that with wheat bran. These extractions and additions did not change caecal bile acid or neutral sterol concentrations. Effects of these diets on plasma cholesterol were unrelated to their tocotrienol or tocopherol content. Addition of n-pentane to oat bran followed by evaporation of solvent gave plasma cholesterol concentrations that were significantly higher than untreated oat bran but lower than similarly treated wheat bran. It is concluded that oat bran affects cholesterol metabolism through a pentane-soluble component as well as non-starch polysaccharides. It appears that the activity of this lipid is not transferable by simple addition of the solvent extract to the whole diet.