The effects of freeze-dried soya milk (SM) and Bifidobacterium-fermented soya milk (FSM) on plasma and liver lipids, and faecal steroid excretion were estimated in hamsters fed on a cholesterol-free or cholesterol-enriched diet. Hamsters fed on the cholesterol-free diet containing 300 g FSM/kg had lower levels of plasma VLDL + LDL cholesterol than the animals fed on the control diet. SM in the diet produced a similar pattern without significant differences. In the cholesterol-enriched diet group, SM and FSM decreased the levels of plasma total cholesterol and VLDL + LDL-cholesterol. SM and FSM decreased the plasma triacylglycerol level in both the cholesterol-free and -enriched diet groups. The liver total cholesterol contents in the SM and FSM groups were lower than that in the control group, for hamsters fed on the cholesterol-free diet. The liver triacylglycerol content was not modified by SM or FSM in hamsters fed on either the cholesterol-free or -enriched diet. SM and FSM increased the total bile acid excretion and the proportion of cholesterol entering the cholic acid biosynthesis pathway in both the cholesterol-free and -enriched diet groups. SM and FSM did not affect neutral steroid excretion in the cholesterol-free or -enriched diet group. There was an inverse relationship between VLDL + LDL-cholesterol and faecal bile acid excretion in hamsters fed on the cholesterol-free (r −0.670, P < 0.01) and cholesterol-enriched (r −0.761, P < 0.001) diets respectively. These results indicated that SM had an anti-atherogenic effect, and that this effect was not diminished by prior fermentation.