Cultured mouse peritoneal macrophages release large numbers of ~30-nm cholesterol-rich particles. Here, we show that those particles represent fragments of the plasma membrane that are pulled away and left behind during the projection and retraction of filopodia and lamellipodia. Consistent with this finding, the particles are enriched in proteins found in focal adhesions, which attach macrophages to the substrate. The release of particles is abolished by blocking cell movement (either by depolymerizing actin with latrunculin A or by inhibiting myosin II with blebbistatin). Confocal microscopy and NanoSIMS imaging studies revealed that the plasma membrane-derived particles are enriched in 'accessible cholesterol' (a mobile pool of cholesterol detectable with the modified cytolysin ALO-D4) but not in sphingolipid-sequestered cholesterol [a pool detectable with ostreolysin A (OlyA)]. The discovery that macrophages release cholesterol-rich particles during cellular locomotion is likely relevant to cholesterol efflux and could contribute to extracellular cholesterol deposition in atherosclerotic plaques.