Oxidative stress plays a central role in atherogenesis. Antioxidants, such as probucol, inhibit oxidation of LDL, retard secretion of interleukin-1, growth factors and chemoattractants, and thus inhibit progression of atherosclerosis. Other antioxidants with an ability to inhibit LDL oxidation, however, could not prevent progression of atherosclerosis. The inconsistency between antioxidant potencies indicated oxidative events might have occurred at locations other than LDL. MDA-lysine epitope (MDA-lys) is closely associated with atherogenesis and was recognized as marker for oxidation. We traced formation of MDA-lys during oxidation of LDL and formation of foam cells. The results indicated that thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS) was primarily present in lipid fraction of ox-LDL not associated with protein fraction after Cu2+ oxidation in vitro. Oxidized LDL did not increase significant immunoreactivity of MDA-lys epitope under our experimental conditions. Foam cells, however, showed the presence of MDA-lys epitope suggesting that intracellular oxidation events occurred to internalized lipids. The uptake of non-oxidatively modified LDL (acetylated LDL) was sufficient to generate MDA-lys epitope in foam cells, consistent with the hypothesis that atherosclerosis is associated with oxidative events in addition to LDL oxidation. We hypothesized that MDA-lys may be generated through intracellular lipid metabolism during the formation of foam cells.