Macrophage foam cells in atherosclerotic lesions accumulate substantial cholesterol stores within large, swollen lysosomes. Previous studies with mildly oxidized low density lipoprotein (OxLDL)-treated THP-1 macrophages suggest an initial buildup of free cholesterol (FC), followed by an inhibition of lysosomal cholesteryl ester (CE) hydrolysis and a subsequent lysosomal accumulation of unhydrolyzed lipoprotein CE. We examined whether other potential sources of cholesterol found within atherosclerotic lesions could also induce similar lysosomal accumulation. Biochemical analysis combined with microscopic analysis showed that treatment of THP-1 macrophages with aggregated low density lipoprotein (AggLDL) or CE-rich lipid dispersions (DISP) produced a similar lysosomal accumulation of both FC and CE. Co-treatment with an ACAT inhibitor, CP113,818, confirmed that the CE accumulation was primarily the result of the inhibition of lysosomal CE hydrolysis. The rate of unhydrolyzed CE buildup was more rapid with DISP than with AggLDL. However, with both treatments, FC appeared to accumulate in lysosomes before the inhibition in hydrolysis and CE accumulation, a sequence shared with mildly OxLDL. Thus, lysosomal accumulation of FC and CE can be attributable to more general mechanisms than just the inhibition of hydrolysis by oxidized lipids.