In the current studies we describe the effects of PD 72953 and related compounds on lipoprotein levels in chow-fed male rats. After 2 weeks, 10 mg/kg of PD 72953 daily was as effective as 100 mg/kg gemfibrozil for elevating HDL-cholesterol. At 100 mg/kg, PD 72953 further elevated HDL-cholesterol to 232% of control levels, and was associated with increased HDL size and plasma apoE (169% of control), despite no change in hepatic apoE mRNA. ApoA-I rose transiently (at 1 week), but by 2 weeks only apoE remained elevated. PD 72953 dose-dependently reduced plasma apoB, VLDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglyceride. Hepatic apoC-III mRNA reduction parallelled triglyceride lowering. After 1 week, 30 and 100 mg/kg per day PD 72953 reduced plasma apo-CIII levels by 30 and 34%, and triglycerides by 60 and 83%, respectively. PD 72953 treatment had no effect on triglyceride production rates; however, 125I-labeled VLDL apoB disappearance was enhanced. We compared PD 72953 to a structurally similar diacid, PD 69405, that also reduced VLDL and LDL, but had no effect on HDL elevation. Compared to PD 72953, PD 69405 further accelerated 125I-labeled VLDL apoB disappearance, decreased triglyceride production, and elevated the ratio of post-heparin hepatic to lipoprotein lipase activity. Whole animal studies, transient transfection studies in HepG2 cells, and chimeric receptor studies in kidney 293 cells suggest that PD 72953 is a ligand for the peroxisomal proliferation activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha), and PPARgamma. Overall, PD 72953 may act through a peroxisomal proliferation activated receptor and result in plasma triglycerides and apoB-containing lipoprotein reduction, while also raising HDL cholesterol. Reduced apoC-III may allow triglyceride-rich remnants to more efficiently bind and present substrate to peripheral tissue lipoprotein lipase, and therefore allow enhanced shedding of remnant phospholipid surface for HDL production.