This multicenter trial evaluated the safety and efficacy of escalating doses of Niaspan (niacin extended-release tablets) and placebo (administered once-a-day at bedtime) in patients with primary hyperlipidemia on the percent change from baseline in levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and apolipoprotein B. Extended-release niacin was initiated at a dose of 375 mg/day, raised to 500 mg/day, and further increased in 500-mg increments at 4-week intervals to a maximum of 3,000 mg/day. A total of 131 patients (n = 87, extended-release niacin; n = 44, placebo) were treated for 25 weeks with study medication after a 6-week diet lead-in/drug washout phase and 2-week baseline LDL cholesterol stability phase. Significant decreases from baseline in levels of LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B became apparent with the 500-mg/day dose and were consistent at all subsequent doses (p ≤0.05), reaching 21% and 20%, respectively, at the 3,000-mg/day dose. Significant increases from baseline in levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol became apparent with the 500-mg/day dose and were consistent at all subsequent doses (p ≤0.05), reaching 30% at the 3,000-mg dose. Significant decreases from baseline in triglycerides and lipoprotein(a) occurred at the 1,000-mg dose and were apparent at all subsequent doses (p ≤0.05), reaching 44% and 26%, respectively, at the 3,000-mg dose. The most common adverse events were flushing and gastrointestinal disturbance. Transaminase increases were relatively small, and the proportion of patients who developed liver function abnormalities on extended-release niacin was not significantly different from placebo. Thus, extended-release niacin was generally well tolerated and demonstrated a dose-related ability to alter favorably most elements of the lipid profile. Copyright (C) 2000 Excerpta Medica Inc.