A recent article in The New York Times does an excellent job outlining the problems with our current conceptions about cholesterol:
"The National Institutes of Health financed a handful of studies to determine whether these ''cholesterol fractions'' could predict the risk of cardiovascular disease. In 1977, the researchers reported their results: total cholesterol turned out to be surprisingly useless as a predictor. Researchers involved with the Framingham Heart Study found that in men and women 50 and older, '''total cholesterol per se is not a risk factor for coronary heart disease at all.''' From the NYT article.
If you have concerns about your cholesterol read the full article--its very informative. I have written an in depth article on cholesterol that goes into how to interpret your tests and what to do about it--you can read it here.