1. Tritium-labelled palmitic acid combined in olive-oil triglycerides was introduced into the rumen of a lactating cow and the specific radioactivity of the lipids of milk and of the lipoproteins of both jugular and mammary venous serum was measured. 2. As previously found in a similar experiment with [3H]stearic acid, the specific radioactivity of the triglyceride fraction of the dextran sulphate-precipitable lipoproteins reached a maximum earlier and greater than that of the milk fat. 3. This fraction was the only lipid separated that had a significant arteriovenous difference in concentration, and is therefore identified as the main circulating lipid precursor of milk fat. 4. Although the non-esterified fatty acids showed no arteriovenous difference in concentration, they showed a negative difference in specific radioactivity that could have occurred only at the expense of the triglycerides of the precipitable lipoproteins. 5. The mean specific radioactivity of the triglycerides immediately after removal from the blood is calculated and shown to be very close in value to that of the corresponding fraction in mammary venous serum. 6. By comparison of the mean specific radioactivities of milk fat and of this precursor, its contribution is calculated as 36%. 7. This value is discussed with reference to the concentration of C16 and C18 fatty acids in milk fat and it is concluded that substantial amounts of these acids must have been derived from a source other than preformed circulating lipids.
- © 1969 The Biochemical Society