Adipose tissue is a major reservoir of cholesterol and, as such, it may play a significant role in cholesterol homeostasis. The aims of this study were to obtain a quantitative characterization of apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I)-dependent lipid efflux from adipocytes and examine the role of ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) in this process. The rates of apoA-I-induced cholesterol and phospholipid efflux were determined and normalized by cellular protein or ABCA1 levels. In order to allow a comparative analysis, parallel experiments were also performed in macrophages. These studies showed that apoA-I induces cholesterol efflux from adipocytes at similar rates as from macrophages. Enhancement of the expression of ABCA1 increased the rates of cholesterol efflux from both adipocytes and macrophages. The results also suggested that a non-ABCA1-dependent mechanism could make significant contributions to the rate of apoA-I-dependent cholesterol efflux when the expression levels of ABCA1 are low. Furthermore, the study of the effect of inhibitors of lipid efflux showed that glyburide and brefeldin A, which affect ABCA1 function, exerted strong and similar inhibitory effects on lipid efflux from both adipocytes and macrophages, whereas BLT1, an SRB-I inhibitor, only exerted a moderate inhibition. Overall these studies suggest that ABCA1 plays a major role in apoA-I-dependent lipid efflux from adipocytes and showed high similarities between the abilities of adipocytes and macrophages to release cholesterol in an apoA-I-dependent fashion.