Abstract Plasma levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are strongly and inversely correlated with atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. However, it is becoming clear that a functional HDL is a more desirable target than simply increasing HDL-cholesterol levels. The best known antiatherogenic function of HDL particles relates to their ability to promote reverse cholesterol transport from peripheral cells. However, HDL also possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antithrombotic effects. This review focuses on the state of knowledge regarding assays of HDL heterogeneity and function and their relationship to cardiovascular diseases.