Polymorphisms in the ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporters ABCG5 and ABCG8 are related to plasma plant sterol concentrations. It is not known whether these polymorphisms are also associated with variations in serum plant sterol concentrations during interventions affecting plant sterol metabolism. We therefore decided to study changes in serum plant sterol concentrations with ABCG5/G8 polymorphisms after consumption of plant stanol esters, which decrease plasma plant sterol concentrations. Cholesterol-standardized serum campesterol and sitosterol concentrations were significantly associated with the ABCG8 T400K genotype, as were changes in serum plant sterol concentrations after consumption of plant stanols. The reduction of -57.1 +/- 38.3 10(2) x micromol/mmol cholesterol for sitosterol in TT subjects was significantly greater compared with the -36.0 +/- 18.7 reduction in subjects with the TK genotype (P = 0.021) and the -16.9 +/- 13.0 reduction in subjects with the KK genotype (P = 0.047). Changes in serum campesterol concentrations showed a comparable association. No association with serum LDL cholesterol was found. Genetic variation in ABCG8 not only explains cross-sectional differences in serum plant sterol concentrations but also determines a subject's responsiveness to changes in serum plant sterols during interventions known to affect plant sterol metabolism.