Hematein is a compound isolated from Caesalpinia sappan that has been used in oriental medicine as both an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory agent. In this study, we examined the anti-atherogenic potential of hematein using cholesterol-fed New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits. NZW rabbits were divided into a hematein-supplemented (0.05% in diet) group (n = 6), a probucol-supplemented (0.25% in diet) group (n = 6), and a control group (n = 6). After 8 weeks of treatments, the extent of the atherosclerotic lesions was significantly reduced in the hematein-supplemented group and the probucol-supplemented group without changing plasma lipoprotein levels. Hematein and probucol prevented the up-regulation of the vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) expression on the descending aorta induced by cholesterol diet. In culture, hematein also significantly inhibited the secretion of soluble VCAM-1 and of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) respectively induced by tumor necrotic factor α (TNF-α) and mildly oxidized low density lipoprotein in human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) culture. Also, hematein inhibited monocyte adhesion to endothelial cell and the activation of NF-κB in HUVECs stimulated with TNF-α. The results of the present study suggest that the anti-atherogenic effect of hematein is not related to control of the plasma lipid profile but probably related to the inhibition of VCAM-1 and MCP-1 expression resulting in an amelioration of lesion development in the rabbit.