Coronary heart disease because of atherosclerosis is still the most common cause of mortality. Elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein and total cholesterol are major risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of the olive leaf extract on serum lipid profile, early changes of atherosclerosis and endothelium-dependent relaxations in cholesterol-fed rats. For this purpose, rats were fed by 2% cholesterol-enriched or standard chow for 8weeks. Some rats in each group were also fed orally by olive leaf extract at doses of 50 or 100mg/kg/day. Atorvastatin at dose of 20mg/kg of body weight daily was also given as positive control. After 8weeks, lipid profiles of rat serums were analyzed. Antioxidant enzyme activities (superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase) and degree of lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde levels) were also measured in the hearts isolated from rats. In addition, expression of adhesion molecules and endothelium-dependent relaxations of isolated thoracic aortas of rats were evaluated. Total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels were found to be increased in cholesterol-fed rats, and both doses of olive leaf extract and atorvastatin significantly decreased those levels. In conclusion, because the olive leaf extract attenuates the increased cholesterol levels, it may have beneficial effects on atherosclerosis. Copyright (c) 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.