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Phospholipids reside in the surface layer of LDLs and constitute approximately 20-25% of the particle by weight. We report a study of the primary products generated from the most abundant molecular species of phosphatidylcholines present in LDL during in vitro free radical oxidations. The 13-hydroperoxides of 1-palmitoyl-2-linoleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (PLPC) and 1-stearoyl-2-linoleoyl-sn-glycero-phosphocholine (SLPC) and the 15-hydroperoxides of 1-palmitoyl-2-arachidonyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (PAPC) and 1-stearoyl-2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycero-phosphocholine (SAPC) were found to increase in a time-dependent manner and in significant amounts even in the presence of alpha-tocopherol. Phospholipid alcohols also formed during the course of the oxidations. Early in the LDL oxidations, while alpha-tocopherol was still present, the thermodynamically favored trans,trans products of PLPC and SLPC were found to form in significantly larger quantities than those formed from cholesteryl linoleate. Additionally, quantities of PAPC 11-hydroperoxide (11-OOH) decreased over time relative to PAPC 15-OOH, even while alpha-tocopherol was still present in the oxidation, presumably as a result of further oxidation of PAPC 11-OOH to form cyclic peroxide oxidation products. These results suggest that alpha-tocopherol is more closely associated with the inner cholesteryl ester-rich hydrophobic core of an LDL particle and is not as effective as an antioxidant in the outer phospholipid layer as it is in the lipid core.