Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Alcohol may exert protection through its effects on the metabolism of plasma lipoproteins. In the present study we investigated the effects of moderate wine consumption with an evening dinner on lipoprotein composition and parameters of reverse cholesterol transport (plasma lipid transfer reactions and cholesterol esterification) in eight healthy middle-aged men. Wine consumption, if compared with mineral water, resulted in increased postprandial plasma levels of triglyceride-(TG)-rich lipoproteins (P < 0.005 or < 0.002 at two different time points) and in increased net mass transfer of cholesterylesters (CE) from high-density lipoprotein (HDL) to apolipoprotein B-containing lipoproteins during in vitro incubation of plasma (P < 0.001). Net mass transfer of TG (in the opposite direction) was also significantly increased by wine (P = 0.014). The concentrations of total plasma cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and apolipoproteins A-I, A-II and B did not change postprandially and were not affected significantly by wine, but the CE TG-1 in HDL was affected postprandially and decreased by wine consumption. It is concluded that moderate wine consumption with evening dinner induces transfer reactions of CE and TG between HDL and TG-rich lipoproteins. Due to the fact that wine raises plasma TG, it also causes changes in plasma cholesterol metabolism and lipoprotein composition, without major effects on total plasma cholesterol concentration.