Background Hyperlipidaemia is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of both myocardial infarction and stroke. We have previously shown that the Pro251 variant of perilipin-2 reduces plasma triglycerides and may therefore be beneficial to reduce atherosclerosis development. Objective We sought to delineate putative beneficial effects of the Pro251 variant of perlipin-2 on subclinical atherosclerosis and the mechanism by which it acts. Methods A pan-European cohort of high-risk individuals where carotid intima-media thickness has been assessed was adopted. Human primary monocyte-derived macrophages were prepared from whole blood from individuals recruited by perilipin-2 genotype or from buffy coats from the Karolinska University hospital blood central. Results The Pro251 variant of perilipin-2 is associated with decreased intima-media thickness at baseline and over 30 months of follow-up. Using human primary monocyte-derived macrophages from carriers of the beneficial Pro251 variant, we show that this variant increases autophagy activity, cholesterol efflux and a controlled inflammatory response. Through extensive mechanistic studies, we demonstrate that increase in autophagy activity is accompanied with an increase in liver-X-receptor (LXR) activity and that LXR and autophagy reciprocally activate each other in a feed-forward loop, regulated by CYP27A1 and 27OH-cholesterol. Conclusions For the first time, we show that perilipin-2 affects susceptibility to human atherosclerosis through activation of autophagy and stimulation of cholesterol efflux. We demonstrate that perilipin-2 modulates levels of the LXR ligand 27OH-cholesterol and initiates a feed-forward loop where LXR and autophagy reciprocally activate each other; the mechanism by which perilipin-2 exerts its beneficial effects on subclinical atherosclerosis.