To study the effect of the chain length of medium-chain fatty acids on the intestinal absorption of long-chain fatty acids, we examined the lymphatic transport of fat following administration of five purified structured triacylglycerols (STAG) containing different medium-chain fatty acids in the sn-1,3 positions and long-chain fatty acids in the sn-2 position in a rat model. Significant amounts of medium-chain fatty acids were found in lymph samples after intragastric administration of 1,3-dioctanoyl-2-linoleyl-sn-glycerol (8:0/18:2/8:0), 1,3-didecanoyl-2-linoleyl-sn-glycerol, and 1,3-didodecanoyl-2-linoleyl-sn-glycerol. The accumulated lymphatic transport of medium-chain fatty acids increased with increasing carbon chain length. The recoveries of caprylic acid (8:0), capric acid (10:0), and lauric acid (12:0) were 7.3 +/- 0.9, 26.3 +/- 2.4, and 81.7 +/- 6.9%, respectively. No significant differences were observed for the maximal intestinal absorption of linoleic acid (18:2n-6) when the chain length of medium-chain fatty acids at the primary positions was varied, and the absorption of 18:2 and oleic acid (18:1) from 8:0/18:2/8:0 and 1,3-dioctanoyl-2-oleyl-sn-glycerol was similar. We conclude that the chain length of the medium-chain fatty acids in the primary positions of STAG does not affect the maximal intestinal absorption of long-chain fatty acids in the sn-2 position in the applied rat model, whereas the distribution of fatty acids between the lymphatics and the portal vein reflects the chain length of the fatty acids.