The changes in lipoprotein metabolism which follow the ingestion of a large fat load have been well described. The hypothesis was tested that similar changes in lipoprotein metabolism would occur after a relatively normal meal. Plasma and lipoprotein triacylglycerol, cholesterol and apolipoprotein concentrations were determined in twenty subjects (ten female) given a mixed meal containing approximately one-third of the daily intake of major nutrients in the typical Western diet. Fasting plasma triacylglycerol concentrations (range 0.38–2.70 mm/l) and the postprandial rise in plasma triacylglycerol varied considerably between subjects and were significantly associated (P < 0.01). The rise in plasma triacylglycerol corresponded to marked increases in the triacylglycerol concentration of the triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins (TRL; chylomicrons and very-low-density lipoproteins). TRL cholesterol also increased after the meal. An increase in high-density-lipoprotein (HDL)-triacylglycerol following the meal was accompanied by a decrease in HDL-cholesterol concentration, presumably due to the action of the cholesteryl-ester transfer protein. The increases in HDL-triacylglycerol and in TRL- cholesterol were correlated with the postprandial rise in triacylglycerol in the TRL (P < 0.01). We conclude that potentially adverse changes occur in both triacylglycerol-rich and high-density lipoproteins following a typical mixed meal, as they do after large fat loads. The changes are exaggerated in those subjects with greater fasting plasma triacylglycerol concentrations.