The aim was to examine the effects of smoking, physical activity, and body mass on total cholesterol and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) in adolescent schoolgirls in Sydney, Australia. Body mass index (BMI) and waist to hip ratio (WHR) were determined in 144 girls aged 15 to 18 years. Total cholesterol (TC) and HDL-C were estimated on fingerprick blood and behavioural variables assessed by questionnaire. Prevalence of overweight (> 90th centile for BMI) was less in Australian adolescents than reported from the USA. Smokers had lower total cholesterol than non-smokers; this was partly explained by a lower HDL-C in the smokers. Physical activity was associated with a less atherogenic TC/HDL-C ratio. Girls with BMI > 90th centile had higher mean TC/HDL-C and apoprotein B than the group as a whole but those > 90th centile for WHR did not.