OBJECTIVE: Baseline characteristics of subjects might be related to the effect of plant stanols on the serum lipoprotein profile. The aim of the study was to examine effects of subjects' baseline characteristics (baseline serum concentrations of lipids and lipoproteins at the start of the study, lathosterol, campesterol and sitosterol; gender, age, BMI, smoking, use of oral contraceptives and menopause) on the effects of plant stanol esters on the serum lipoprotein profile. METHODS: We used data of five studies performed at our Department. A random intercept model was used for statistical analysis, using serum lipid and lipoprotein concentrations after plant stanol ester consumption, as dependent variables. RESULTS: After plant stanol ester consumption, higher baseline serum concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol resulted in larger absolute decreases in their respective serum concentrations. For the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol, higher baseline serum levels resulted in larger absolute and relative decreases in their serum levels. HDL cholesterol concentrations increased in subjects with low baseline concentrations and decreased in those with high baseline concentrations. Effects however were small. No relationships were observed with baseline serum cholesterol-standardized lathosterol and campesterol concentrations, although LDL cholesterol concentrations tended to decrease more at higher baseline sitosterol concentrations. No effects of other baseline characteristics were found. CONCLUSIONS: People with an unfavorable serum lipid and lipoprotein profile benefit even more of plant stanols than people with a more favorable profile.