Milk fat contains considerable amounts of saturated fatty acids, known to increase serum cholesterol. Little is known, however, about the relative effect of different milk products on risk factors for CHD. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of Jarlsberg cheese (a Norwegian variety of Swiss cheese) with butter on serum lipoproteins, haemostatic variables and homocysteine. A controlled dietary study was performed with twenty-two test individuals (nine men and thirteen women) aged 23–54 years. The subjects consumed three isoenergetic test diets, with equal amounts of fat and protein, and containing either cheese (CH diet), butter+calcium caseinate (BC diet) or butter+egg-white protein (BE diet). The study was a randomised cross-over study and the subjects consumed each diet for 3 weeks, with 1 week when they consumed their habitual diet in between. Fasting blood samples were drawn at baseline and at the end of each period. Serum was analysed for lipids and plasma for haemostatic variables and homocysteine. Total cholesterol was significantly lower after the CH diet than after the BC diet (−0.27 mmol/l; P=0.03), while the difference in LDL-cholesterol was found to be below significance level (−0.22 mmol/l; P=0.06). There were no significant differences in HDL-cholesterol, triacylglycerols, apo A-I, apo B or lipoprotein (a), haemostatic variables and homocysteine between the diets. The results indicate that, at equal fat content, cheese may be less cholesterol increasing than butter.