Policosanol is a mixture of higher aliphatic primary alcohols that is extracted from purified sugar cane wax or a variety of other plant sources, and has been shown to have beneficial effects on serum lipid concentrations. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of a policosanol supplement (Octa-60) on lipid profiles of hypercholesterolaemic and heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemic subjects. Nineteen hypercholesterolaemic and familial hypercholesterolaemic subjects completed this randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. The subjects received either a daily dose of 20 mg policosanol or placebo for 12 weeks. After a wash-out period of 4 weeks, the interventions were crossed over. Lipid levels were measured at baseline and at the end of each intervention period. No significant differences in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol from baseline to end or between policosanol and placebo were seen in the hypercholesterolaemic or familial hypercholesterolaemic groups. There were small reductions in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol from baseline to end in the hypercholesterolaemic group, but these changes did not differ significantly from the changes with the placebo, indicating that the observed decrease in cholesterol in the policosanol group was not due to the specific effect of policosanol treatment. The differences in response may be ascribed to the differences in composition of the higher aliphatic primary alcohols in the previously used products, compared with the local policosanol supplement. An intake of 20 mg/d policosanol for 12 weeks had no significant effect on serum lipid levels in hypercholesterolaemic and heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemic patients when compared with placebo intake.