A study was conducted in hamsters to determine if artichoke leaf extract (ALE) could lower plasma total and non-HDL cholesterol by increasing fecal excretion of neutral bile acids and sterols. Sixty-four Golden Syrian hamsters (8 week old) were fed control diet or a similar diet containing ALE (4.5 g/kg diet) for 6 weeks. No significant changes for total cholesterol, HDL, non-HDL cholesterol triglycerides or fecal neutral sterols and bile acids were found after 21 days for ALE-fed animals compared with controls. But after 42 days, ALE-fed male hamsters had significantly lower total cholesterol (15%), non-HDL cholesterol (30%) and triglycerides (22%) and female hamsters fed ALE showed reductions of 15% for total cholesterol, 29% for non-HDL cholesterol and 29% for triglycerides compared with controls. Total neutral sterol and bile acids concentrations increased significantly by 50% and 53% in fecal samples of ALE fed males, and 82.4% and 25% in ALE fed females compared with controls. The ALE lowered hamster plasma cholesterol levels by a mechanism involving the greater excretion of fecal bile acids and neutral sterols after feeding for 42 days. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.