Abstract Background: We assessed severe hypertriglyceridemia, hypertriglyceridemic acute pancreatitis, and failure of triglyceride-lowering therapy when estrogens were given to 56 women with and without familial hypertriglyceridemia. The 56 women had been consecutively referred to our center over a 3-year period because of triglycerides >400 mg/dl despite diet-drug treatment and/or a history of hypertriglyceridemic acute pancreatitis (AP). Of the 56 women, 17 had received estrogen replacement therapy (ERT), hormone replacement (HRT, n=6), or selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM, n=1). Methods: After study at entry, in 56 women (median age, 52 years), 36 with familial hypertriglyceridemia, to lower triglycerides, estrogens and SERMs (hormone treatment, HT) were stopped; a very low fat diet (<15% of calories), gemfibrozil (1.2–1.5 mg/day), and omega-3-fatty acid (4–12 g/day) were started, with restudy 2–4 weeks later. Results: Of the 56 women, 24 (43%) were taking HT at entry, with median fasting triglycerides 1270 mg/dl in the HT group and 1087 mg/dl in the no-HT group. Seventeen women (30%) had a history of AP, nine of whom (53%) were/had been on HT at the development of AP. Significant positive correlates of triglycerides at entry in a stepwise regression model were hemoglobin A 1C (partial r 2=10.7%, p<0.05) and an interaction between estrogen use and familial hypertriglyceridemia (partial r 2=15%, p=0.017). After 2–4 weeks on therapy, median triglycerides in the previous-HT group fell from 1270 to 284 mg/dl ( p<0.0001) and in the no-HT group from 1087 to 326 mg/dl ( p<0.0001). Conclusions: Before starting HT, to avoid HT induced hypertriglyceridemic AP and exacerbation of overt or covert familial hypertriglyceridemia, triglycerides must be measured. HT is contraindicated in women with preexisting hypertriglyceridemia (triglycerides≥500 mg/dl). Triglyceride-lowering diets and drugs often fail in the presence of HT and/or poorly controlled diabetes mellitus, but commonly succeed when HT is stopped and diabetes mellitus is tightly controlled.