During hibernation, fat is known to be the preferred source of energy. A detailed analysis of different phospholipids, as well as free and esterified cholesterol, was conducted to investigate lipid abnormalities during hibernation. The levels of total phospholipids and total cholesterol in the serum of black bears were found to increase significantly in hibernation as compared with the active state. Both free and esterified cholesterol were increased in the hibernating state in comparison with the active state (P < 0.05). The percentage increase during hibernation was more in free cholesterol (57%) than in esterified cholesterol (27%). Analysis of subclasses of serum phospholipids showed that choline containing phospholipids, i.e., sphingomyelin (SPG) (14%) and phosphatidylcholine (PC) (76%), are the major phospholipids in the serum of bear. The minor phospholipids included 8% of phosphatidylserine (PS) + phosphatidylinositol (PI), while phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) was only 2% of the total phospholipids. A comparison of phospholipid subclasses showed that PC, PS + PI and SPG were significantly increased, while PE was significantly decreased (P < 0.05) in the hibernating state as compared with the active state in black bears. These results suggest that the catabolism of phospholipids and cholesterol is decreased during hibernation in black bears, leading to their increased levels in the hibernating state as compared with the active state. In summary, our results indicate that serum cholesterol and phospholipid fractions (except PE) are increased during hibernation in bears. It is proposed that the increase of these lipids may be due to the altered metabolism of lipoproteins that are responsible for the clearance of the lipids. ?? 2002 E??ditions scientifiques et me??dicales Elsevier SAS and Socie??te?? franc??aise de biochimie et biologie mole??culaire. All rights reserved.