Cholesterol absorption is a key regulatory point in human lipid metabolism because it determines the amount of endogenous biliary as well as dietary cholesterol that is retained, thereby influencing whole body cholesterol balance. Plant sterols (phytosterols) and the drug ezetimibe reduce cholesterol absorption and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in clinical trials, complementing the statin drugs, which inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis. The mechanism of cholesterol absorption is not completely known but involves the genes ABC1, ABCG5, and ABCG8, which are members of the ATP-binding cassette protein family and appear to remove unwanted cholesterol and phytosterols from the enterocyte. ABC1 is upregulated by the liver X (LXR) and retinoid X (RXR) nuclear receptors. Acylcholesterol acytransferase-2 is an intestinal enzyme that esterifies absorbed cholesterol and increases cholesterol absorption when dietary intake is high. New clinical treatments based on better understanding of absorption physiology are likely to substantially improve clinical cholesterol management in the future.