BACKGROUND: Global demographic changes have stimulated marked interest in the process of ageing. There has been, and will continue to be, an unrelenting rise in the number of the oldest old ( >85 years of age). Together with an ageing population there comes an increase in the prevalence of age related disease. Of the diseases of ageing, cardiovascular disease (CVD) has by far the highest prevalence. It is regarded that a finely tuned lipid profile may help to prevent CVD as there is a long established relationship between alterations to lipid metabolism and CVD risk. In fact elevated plasma cholesterol, particularly Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL-C) has consistently stood out as a risk factor for having a cardiovascular event. Moreover it is widely acknowledged that LDL-C may rise with age in both sexes in a wide variety of groups. The aim of this work was to use a whole-body mathematical model to investigate why LDL-C rises with age, and to test the hypothesis that mechanistic changes to cholesterol absorption and LDL-C removal from the plasma are responsible for the rise. The whole-body mechanistic nature of the model differs from previous models of cholesterol metabolism which have either focused on intracellular cholesterol homeostasis or have concentrated on an isolated area of lipoprotein dynamics. The model integrates both current and previously published data relating to molecular biology, physiology, ageing and nutrition in an integrated fashion.