Ficus carica has been traditionally used for the treatment of several metabolic syndrome-related health problems. It was the objective of this study to investigate the preventive effects of a Ficus carica (FC) leaf extract on hyperlipidemia in high fat diet (HFD)-induced obese male rats. Male Sprague–Dawley rats (180 – 200 g) were fed with a regular diet, HFD or a HFD + oral treatment of either 50 mg/kg or 100 mg/kg of FC or 30 mg/kg pioglitazone for six weeks. A range of parameters was evaluated including body weight development, plasma levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides (TG), low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), adiponectin, leptin, glucose, insulin, interleukin-6 (IL-6), atherogenic index (AI) and the coronary risk index (CRI). FC significantly lowered TG and IL-6 levels and elevated HDL cholesterol (p < 0.05). The effects of FC on lipid parameters were more pronounced than those of the positive control pioglitazone. FC significantly lowered AI and CRI (p < 0.01) while it had no effect on adiponectin and leptin levels. Our results demonstrate that preventive treatment with FC significantly improved the lipid profile and decreased adipogenic risk factors in HFD rats most likely mediated through an increase in HDL-C levels. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.