The present study demonstrates for the first time the protective role of two common flavonoids, quercetin and its glycone rutin, against high cholesterol diet (2%) induced hepatotoxicity and inflammation. Swiss albino mice were given either a standard laboratory diet (control), high cholesterol diet (HCD) or high cholesterol diet along with quercetin or rutin (100 mg kg-1 body weight) in their respective groups. The HCD mice exhibited a gain in body weight, significant rise in serum and hepatic level of total cholesterol, triglyceride, liver function enzymes, lipid peroxidation, and pro-inflammatory cytokines (P < 0.05). Histopathological studies showed hepatic fat accumulation and tissue disintegration. There was significant depletion of major hepatic antioxidants (P < 0.05). Immunoblot studies revealed a high expression of redox sensitive transcription factors NF-κB and TNF-α. A subsequent rise in the mRNA expression of inflammatory markers like C reactive protein and inducible nitric oxide synthase 2 were also found from the RT-PCR study. Simultaneous treatment with quercetin or rutin along with HCD significantly prevented the gains in body weight, lipid level, liver function enzymes, lipid peroxidation level and expression of inflammatory markers. The restoration of hepatic antioxidant homeostasis and hepatic morphology has also been observed. Hence, the present study illustrates the hypolipidemic, hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory effects of two similar flavonoids. © 2014 the Partner Organisations.