Abstract Reconstituted discoidal high-density lipoproteins (rHDLs) of apolipoprotein AI are able to induce leakage of the internal aqueous space of lipid vesicles (A. Tricerri et al., 1998, Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1391, 67–78) and such interaction depends on the cholesterol content of vesicles and rHDL as well as the rHDL size. With the aim of knowing if this rHDL/vesicle interaction plays some role in the cholesterol exchange, the time course for bidirectional radiolabeled cholesterol transfer between 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoylphosphatidylcholine (POPC) vesicles and different sized rHDLs was measured. The results show that size increase in the rHDL decreases the rate constant for cholesterol transfer from POPC/cholesterol vesicles and that the initial presence of cholesterol in the vesicles results in an increased rate constant for cholesterol transfer from the rHDLs. This cannot be explained by a simple aqueous diffusion mechanism. The existing correlation between rHDL/vesicle interaction and cholesterol transfer rate suggests that besides the aqueous diffusion, another mechanism involving the binding or interaction between donor and acceptor may occur. This fact may be of physiological relevance since the relative high affinity of small cholesterol-poor discs for cell membranes could facilitate the cholesterol efflux, while the decreased membrane affinity as a consequence of cholesterol enrichment and increase in size would decrease the rate of transfer in the opposite direction.