One hundred forty-two women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) with an average body mass index (BMI) of 29.1 kg/m(2) and average age of 25.12 years were studied. By BMI, 30.2% were normal, 38.0% were overweight and 31.6% were obese. Thirty-one eumenorrheic women matched for BMI and age, with no evidence of hyperandrogenism, were recruited as controls. The incidence of dyslipidemia in the PCOS group was twice that of the Control group (76.1% versus 32.25%). The most frequent abnormalities were low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C; 57.6%) and high triglyceride (TG) (28.3%). HDL-C was significantly lower in all subgroups of women with PCOS when compared to the subgroups of normal women. No significant differences were seen in the total cholesterol (p = 0.307), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C; p = 0.283) and TGs (p = 0.113) levels among the subgroups. An independent effect on HDL-C was detected for glucose (p = 0.004) and fasting insulin (p = 0.01); on TG for age (p = 0.003) and homeostatic model assessment insulin resistance (p = 0.03) and on total cholesterol and LDL-C for age (p = 0.02 and p = 0.033, respectively). In conclusion, dyslipidemia is common in women with PCOS, mainly due to low HDL-C levels. BMI has a significant impact on this abnormality.