The effects of lovastatin and ursodeoxycholic acid on cholesterol saturation of gallbladder bile were examined, alone and in combination. Nine volunteers were studied before any treatment and after each of three treatment periods: lovastatin, 40 mg, twice a day; ursodeoxycholic acid, 10 mg/kg per day; and the combination of both drugs. Treatment periods were randomly ordered, lasted 4-5 wk, and each was preceded by a 3-wk washout period. Mean cholesterol saturation index decreased from a baseline value of 1.40-0.92 on lovastatin (p < 0.008). Mean cholesterol saturation index on ursodeoxycholic acid was 0.87 and decreased to 0.70 with the addition of lovastatin (p < 0.030). There was a strong correlation (r = 0.87, p < 0.003) between saturation index on ursodeoxycholic acid and the further incremental reduction in saturation index with addition of lovastatin. These findings raise the possibility that addition of lovastatin to ursodeoxycholic acid treatment might improve the efficacy of this bile salt for dissolution of cholesterol gallstones, especially in patients with a suboptimal response to ursodeoxycholic acid.