The effect of physical exercise conditioning on fasting and postprandial lipoprotein levels was studied in six normolipidemic subjects. The study consisted of two phases: a baseline stabilization phase in which subjects maintained their regular physical activity and an exercise conditioning phase in which subjects had 29 exercise sessions during a 7-week period. Each of these sessions consisted of jogging on a treadmill for 30 minutes. The subjects averaged 15.2 miles/wk. To control for possible confounding factors, such as changes in diet composition and weight loss, we placed the subjects on a metabolic diet and increased their daily caloric intake during the exercise phase. At the end of each phase of the study, a vitamin A-fat loading test was done to specifically label and follow postprandial lipoprotein levels, and a maximum oxygen consumption test ws done to evaluate the subjects' physical fitness. The exercise conditioning phase significantly increased the subjects' aerobic capacity and postheparin lipoprotein lipase activity, and the phase decreased fasting triglyceride levels. Physical exercise also significantly decreased chylomicron (SF>1,000) levels by 37%. In summary, this study suggests that physical exercise conditioning reduces fasting and postprandial lipoprotein levels by increasing the catabolism of triglyceride-rich particles. Because these particles may have a role in atherogenesis, this could be a major mechanism by which exercise prevents coronary heart disease.