Laboratory animal models play an important role in atherosclerosis research. One of the most popular laboratory animal species in this field of research is the rabbit. The rabbit fulfils most of the criteria for an animal model for human atherosclerosis. Three rabbit models were established and used for dietary or drug intervention: 1) the cholesterol-fed normolipidemic rabbit, 2) the 1% cholesterol- fed heterozygous Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbit and 3) the homozygous WHHL rabbit. The reproductive performance and physiological blood lipid levels in growing and adult heterozygous and homozygous WHHL and normolipidemic rabbit were characterized. The position of the rabbit models in atherosclerosis research was discussed. The characteristic features of cholesterolfed and WHHL rabbis were compared.