BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Pre-clinical studies suggest that sesame and its lignans induce beneficial changes in risk factors related to cardiovascular disease and increase the bioavailability of mammalian lignans. However, only very few intervention trials have investigated the potential bioactivities of sesame in humans. We aimed to investigate the effects of sesame supplementation in humans on blood lipids, blood pressure, systemic oxidative stress, inflammatory biomarkers and mammalian lignan metabolism. METHODS AND RESULTS: We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled cross-over intervention trial at a university research centre. Overweight or obese men and women (n=33) consumed 25g/d of sesame ( approximately 50mg/d of sesame lignan) and an iso-caloric placebo matched for macronutrient composition for 5 wks each. Each intervention period was preceded by a 4-wk washout period. Blood lipid profiles, day time ambulatory blood pressure, oxidative stress and inflammatory biomarkers and urinary mammalian lignans were measured before and after each intervention. Results are presented as the effect of sesame supplementation relative to placebo. Urinary excretion of the mammalian lignans, enterolactone and enterodiol, increased by approximately 8-fold (P<0.001). Blood lipids and blood pressure were not altered. In addition, markers of systemic inflammation (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha) and lipid peroxidation (F(2)-isoprostanes) were not affected. CONCLUSION: Supplementation with 25g/d of sesame can significantly increase the exposure to mammalian lignans. However, this did not cause any improvement in markers of cardiovascular disease risk in overweight or obese men and women.