The specific components of soy responsible for its beneficial effects on plasma lipids are unknown. Golden Syrian F(1)B Hybrid hamsters (75 male, 74 female) were evaluated for the effect of dietary soy and soy isoflavones on plasma lipids. They were fed the following diets for 16 wk: casein/lactalbumin (C/L), soy protein with isoflavones [Soy(+)], soy protein with isoflavones removed [Soy(-)], Soy(-) plus isoflavone extract (IF), and C/L + IF. At necropsy, plasma total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol (HDLC), LDL + VLDL cholesterol (LDL + VLDLC), isoflavones, and uterine and accessory gland weights were measured. Male hamsters fed the three soy-containing diets had lower LDL + VLDLC concentrations than those fed the two C/L diets (P < 0.01), and those fed Soy(-) + IF did not differ from those fed Soy(+). In females, diet did not affect plasma LDL + VLDLC concentration. Females fed Soy(+) or Soy(-) had higher HDLC (P < 0.05) than those fed C/L. HDLC was not affected by diet in males. Due to higher equol production (P < 0.01), males had greater plasma isoflavone concentrations (P < 0.01) than females. There was a positive association between plasma total isoflavones and LDL + VLDLC (r = 0.65, P < 0.05) in females. These data suggest gender differences in plasma lipid and isoflavone responses to soy- based diets in Syrian F(1)B Hybrid hamsters, which offer an opportunity to explore effects of sex hormones on isoflavone metabolism and the effects of isoflavones on lipid metabolism.