Monocytes are heterogeneous effector cells involved in the maintenance and restoration of tissue integrity. Monocytes and macrophages are involved in cardiovascular disease progression, and are associated with the development of unstable atherosclerotic plaques. Hyperlipidaemia can accelerate cardiovascular disease progression. However, monocyte responses to hyperlipidaemia are poorly understood. In the past decade, accumulating data describe the relationship between the dynamic blood lipid environment and the heterogeneous circulating monocyte pool, which might have profound consequences for cardiovascular disease. In this Review, we explore the updated view of monocytes in cardiovascular disease and their relationship with macrophages in promoting the homeostatic and inflammatory responses related to atherosclerosis. We describe the different definitions of dyslipidaemia, highlight current theories on the ontogeny of monocyte heterogeneity, discuss how dyslipidaemia might alter monocyte production, and explore the mechanistic interface linking dyslipidaemia with monocyte effector functions, such as migration and the inflammatory response. Finally, we discuss the role of dietary and endogenous lipid species in mediating dyslipidaemic responses, and the role of these lipids in promoting the risk of cardiovascular disease through modulation of monocyte behaviour.