The use of cyclosporin A has contributed greatly to the success of organ transplantation. However, cyclosporin-associated side effects of hypertension, nephrotoxicity, and dyslipoproteinemia have tempered these benefits. Cyclosporin-induced dyslipoproteinemia may be an important risk factor for the accelerated atherosclerosis observed posttransplantation. Using a mouse model, we treated Swiss-Webster mice for 6 days with a daily dose of 20 microg/g body wt of cyclosporin and observed significant elevations of plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, and apolipoprotein B (apoB) levels relative to vehicle-alone treated control animals. Measurement of the rate of secretion of very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) by the liver in vivo showed that cyclosporin treatment led to a significant increase in the rate of hepatic VLDL triglyceride secretion. Total apoB secretion was unaffected. Northern analysis showed that cyclosporin A treatment increased the abundance of hepatic mRNA levels for a number of key genes involved in cholesterol biosynthesis relative to vehicle-alone treated animals. Two key transcriptional factors, sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP)-1 and SREBP-2, also showed differential expression; SREBP-2 expression was increased at the mRNA level, and there was an increase in the active nuclear form, whereas the mRNA and the nuclear form of SREBP-1 were reduced. These results show that the molecular mechanisms by which cyclosporin causes dyslipoproteinemia may, in part, be mediated by selective activation of SREBP-2, leading to enhanced expression of lipid metabolism genes and hepatic secretion of VLDL triglyceride.