The antiatherogenic effect of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and its major protein component apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) has been largely attributed to their key roles in reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) and cellular cholesterol efflux. Substantial evidence shows that overexpression of human apoA-I reduces atherosclerosis in animal models. However, it is uncertain whether this protection is due to an increase in plasma HDL level or to a local effect in the artery wall. To test the hypothesis that expression of human apoA-I in macrophages can promote RCT in the artery wall, we used a retroviral construct expressing human apoA-I cDNA (MFG-HAI) to transduce ApoE(-/-) bone marrow cells and then transplanted these cells into ApoE(-/-) mice with preexisting atherosclerosis. ApoE(-/-) mice reconstituted with MFG-HAI marrow had a significant reduction (30%) in atherosclerotic lesions in the proximal aorta compared to control mice that received marrow expressing MFG parental virus. Peritoneal macrophages isolated from MFG-HAI mice showed a four- to fivefold increase in mRNA expression levels of both ATP-binding cassette (ABC) A1 and ABCG1 compared to controls. Our data demonstrate that gene transfer-mediated expression of human apoA-I in macrophages can compensate in part for apoE deficiency and delay the progression of atherosclerotic lesions by stimulating ABC-dependent cholesterol efflux and RCT.