Apolipoprotein B-100 (apo B) is the principal structural and functional protein of the pro-atherogenic lipoproteins, but its homeostasis in man has not been clearly established. The hepatic availability of cholesterol substrate may be a determining factor. We examined whether there was a direct correlation between plasma concentrations of mevalonic acid (MVA) and lathosterol (indices of in vivo cholesterol synthesis) and hepatic secretion of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) apo B in 13 normolipidaemic, healthy male subjects. The secretion of VLDL apo B was measured using a primed constant intravenous infusion of I-[C-13]-leucine (1 mg/kg per h) over 8 h. Gas-chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) was used to derive isotopic enrichment of apo B and fractional turnover rate was calculated using a monoexponential function. There was a highly significant positive correlation between the absolute secretion rate (ASR) of VLDL apo B and the plasma concentrations of mevalonic acid (r = 0.72, P = 0.005) and lathosterol (r = 0.81, P = 0.001) and the lathosterol:cholesterol ratio (r = 0.79, P = 0.001). In multiple regression analysis, these correlations remained significant after adjusting for waist circumference, age, apolipoprotein E genotype and dietary fat intake. The data further support the notion that the availability of cholesterol substrate regulates the hepatic secretion rate of apo B. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.