Prior studies assessing the metabolic effects of different types of carbohydrates have focused on their glycaemic response. However, the response of postprandial cardiometabolic risk indicators has not been considered in these studies. The present study assessed postprandial lipid responses to two forms of carbohydrates used as reference foods for glycaemic index determinations, white bread (50 g available carbohydrate) and glucose (50 g), under controlled conditions and with intra-individual replicate determinations. A total of twenty adults (20–70 years) underwent two cycles of challenges with each pair of reference foods (four challenges/person), administered in a random order on separate days under standard conditions. Serum lipids (total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, TAG and NEFA), glucose and insulin were monitored for 5 h post-ingestion. Oral glucose resulted in greater glycaemic and insulinaemic responses than white bread for the first 90 min and a greater subsequent decline after 120 min (P =0·0001). The initial decline in serum NEFA concentrations was greater after the oral glucose than after the white bread challenge, as was the rebound after 150 min (P =0·001). Nevertheless, the type of carbohydrate had no significant effect on postprandial total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol concentrations. Following an initial modest rise in TAG concentrations in response to both challenges, the values dropped below the fasting values for oral glucose but not for the white bread challenge. These data suggest that the type of carbohydrate used to determine the glycaemic index, bread or glucose, has little or modest effects on postprandial plasma cholesterol concentrations. Differences in TAG and NEFA concentrations over the 5 h time period were modest, and their clinical relevance is unclear.