Abstract Eleven obese volunteers took part in a 12-week study during 8 weeks of which 2 meals of their control 1000 kcal diets were replaced by a soya based liquid formula (1 month) or a milk based liquid formula (1 month). The mean weight loss per month was 2.5 kg ( P < 0.05). On the soya formula total and LDL cholesterol levels were reduced significantly over the month by 10.0 ± 2.7% ( P < 0.01) and 17.5 ± 5.6% ( P < 0.02), respectively. Neither the milk based formula or the control low calorie diet lowered serum cholesterol significantly over the diet period. No change was seen in serum triglycerides on any of the 3 diets. No difference was seen between treatments in 24-h urinary C-peptide excretion. The results indicated that use of a vegetable protein supplement in a weight loss program which induced moderate weight loss was associated with a reduction in blood lipids, whereas moderate weight loss on a control low calorie diet or milk based formula was not.