A pine wood based stanol ester mixture-composed of sitostanol (92%) and campestanol (8%) effectively lowers cholesterol absorption and consequently LDL-cholesterol concentrations. It has been postulated that the less absorbable plant sterols reduce cholesterol absorption more effectively. As sitostanol is absorbed less than campestanol, we decided to examine if a vegetable oil based stanol ester mixture with 68% sitostanol and 32% campestanol is less effective than the wood based stanol ester mixture. For this, 112 non-hypercholesterolemic men and women consumed for 4 weeks a rapeseed oil (LEAR) based margarine and shortening. For the next 8 weeks, 42 subjects continued with these products, while the other subjects received products with a vegetable oil (n = 36) or a pine wood based stanol ester mixture (n = 34). Consumption of 3.8 g vegetable oil based stanols (2.6 g sitostanol plus 1.2 g campestanol) lowered LDL cholesterol 14.6 +/- 8.0% (- 0.37 mmol/l; vs. the control group; P <0.001; 95% CI for the difference, - 0.22 to - 0.51 mmol/l). Four grams pine wood based stanols (3.7 g sitostanol plus 0.3 g campestanol) showed a comparable decrease of 12.8 +/- 11.2% (- 0.34 mmol/l; P <0.001; 95% CI - 0.18 to - 0.51 mmol/l). Decreases in LDL cholesterol were not different between the two experimental groups (P = 0.793), while apoE genotype did not have a major impact on this hypocholesterolemic response. Serum HDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations were not changed. The decreases in apo B in both experimental groups differed significantly (P <0.001) from changes in the control group. Coagulation and fibrinolytic parameters were not affected. We therefore conclude that vegetable oil and wood based stanol ester mixtures, with a different sitostanol/campestanol ratio, have similar LDL cholesterol lowering effects in a non-hypercholesterolemic population.