A new rapid and sensitive method, the single vertical spin autoprofiler (VAP), has been developed for quantitative profiling of the major plasma lipoproteins. The method involves a combination of single vertical spin separation of plasma and continuous on-line analysis of cholesterol. Plasma lipoproteins are first separated by a 45-min spin in a vertical rotor, after which the amount of cholesterol in the effluent of each tube is monitored continuously by a modification of the BMC automated enzymatic cholesterol method; simultaneously, 80% of the sample is diverted by stream-splitting to a fraction collector for further analysis, if desired. VAP not only resolves very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL), and high density lipoprotein (HDL) peaks quantitatively but also detects the presence of intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL) and other lipoprotein variants. VAP was highly reproducible; the inter-run coefficient of variation for cholesterol concentration in VLDL, LDL, and HDL was 4.8%, 2.9%, and 2.4%, respectively. Cholesterol recovery using VAP was 98.5 ± 3.5%. Lipoprotein-cholesterol profiles of plasma from three major hyperlipoproteinemia phenotypes examined by VAP were qualitatively and quantitatively different from each other and from profiles of normolipidemic individuals. One significant finding was that IDL could be detected in the plasma of all type IV hyperlipoproteinemic subjects examined thus far. Several variant lipoprotein profiles which did not correspond to known phenotypes have also been detected by VAP using plasma from hyperlipidemic as well as from normolipidemic subjects. We submit that VAP is an accurate and rapid method for lipoprotein analysis, either for routine clinical screening or for detailed experimental studies. In addition, VAP provides a visual display of partially to completely resolved lipoprotein classes that is suitable for computer-assisted analysis.