BACKGROUND: beta-Glucan can reduce serum concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol. The mechanism of this action is not clear, however, and it is difficult to predict the cholesterol-lowering effect of a food product enriched with beta-glucan. OBJECTIVES: We examined the effects of a beta-glucan-enriched fruit juice on serum lipids and lipoproteins and on markers of cholesterol absorption (serum concentrations of plant sterols) and synthesis (serum concentrations of lathosterol). In addition, we measured effects on lipid-soluble antioxidants. DESIGN: After a 3-wk run-in period, healthy subjects consumed daily a fruit drink providing 5 g rice starch [placebo (control) group; n = 22] or beta-glucan from oats (n = 25) for 5 wk (parallel design). At the end of the run-in period and at the end of the intervention, blood samples were taken for analysis of lipids and lipoproteins, noncholesterol sterols, and fat-soluble antioxidants. Changes between the end of the run-in period and the end of the intervention were calculated for each subject. Differences in changes between the groups were analyzed statistically. RESULTS: The differences between the control and beta-glucan groups in the change in serum concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol, respectively, were -4.8% (P = 0.012) and -7.7% (P = 0.005). The differences between the groups in the change in serum concentrations of lathosterol and sitosterol were -13% (P = 0.023) and -11% (P = 0.030), respectively. No significant effects were found on fat-soluble antioxidants. CONCLUSIONS: Beta-glucan lowers serum concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol when incorporated into a fruit drink. A reduced cholesterol absorption contributes to the cholesterol-lowering effect of beta-glucan without affecting plasma concentrations of lipid-soluble antioxidants.