The in vivo antiatherogenic activity of the calcium antagonist lacidipine was investigated in arterial hyperplasia induced by perivascular manipulation of hyper-cholesterolemic carotid rabbits. This was accomplished by positioning a hollow silastic collar around one carotid, which within a few days induces an atherosclerotic lesion (proliferative lesion) showing biochemical and morphologic changes similar to those of early human atherosclerosis; the contralateral carotid, with no collar, served as control in the same animal. The effect of lacidipine was also investigated in aortic atherosclerotic lesions (fatty lesions) induced by hypercholesterolemia mixed with either cholesterol (1%) and lacidipine (3 mg/kg/day) or cholesterol (1%) alone for 8 weeks. Hypercholesterolemic New Zealand White rabbits were fed daily a standard diet. Intimal hyperplasia was mechanically induced in one carotid artery of each rabbit 6 weeks after dietary and drug treatment started. Neointimal formation was followed by measuring by light microscopy the cross-sectional thickness of intimal (I) and medial (M) tissue of fixed arteries. In positive control animals receiving dietary cholesterol only (n = 10), by 14 d after collar positioning the process of intimal hyperplasia was significantly pronounced. The control arteries showed an I:M tissue ratio of 0.03 ± 0.02, whereas in the carotid with collar the ratio was 0.56 ± 0.11. In the animals receiving lacidipine, neointimal formation was significantly lower [I:M tissue ratio 0.32 ± 0.1 (n = 10), about 60% of positive controls]. Measurement of the percent area of the aortic intima covered by plaques did not show significant differences between control and lacidipine-treated animals. These results suggest a direct antiatherosclerotic effect of lacidipine on proliferative lesions.