Statins are agents widely used to lower LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) in primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. The five statins available in the UK (simvastatin, pravastatin, fluvastatin, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin) differ in many of their pharmacologic properties. In addition to lowering LDL-C, statins also increase HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) moderately. There have been rare reports of significant HDL-C decreases in patients commenced on fibrates and when thiazolidinediones are added to fibrates. This is known as a 'paradoxical HDL-C decrease' as both groups of agents usually increase HDL-C. This phenomenon has never been clearly documented following statin therapy. We now describe a patient with type 2 diabetes who showed this paradoxical fall in HDL-C (baseline HDL-C: 1.8 mmol/L; on simvastatin 40 mg HDL-C 0.6 mmol/L; on atorvastatin 20 mg HDL-C 0.9 mmol/L) with a similar decrease in apolipoprotein A1. No similar decrease was observed with pravastatin and rosuvastatin therapy. This phenomenon appeared to be associated with statin treatment and not a statin/fibrate combination. Our patient clearly demonstrated a paradoxical HDL-C fall with simvastatin and atorvastatin, but not pravastatin or rosuvastatin. Simvastatin and atorvastatin share many pharmacokinetic properties such as lipophilicity while pravastatin and rosuvastatin are relatively hydrophilic and are not metabolized by cytochrome P450 3A4. However, these characteristics do not explain the dramatic reductions in HDL-C observed.