We isolated hepatocytes from rats chronically fed with ethanol and pair-fed control rats and incubated them both in the presence and absence of 100 mM ethanol in order to analyze the uptake into their lipids of several radiolabeled exogenous substrates. The hepatocytes treated chronically with ethanol showed higher lipogenic activity both in neutral lipids and phospholipids from serine, ethanolamine, glycerol and oleate. The only exception found was in the incorporation of choline into phosphatidylcholine (PC), which was lower in the hepatocytes from ethanol-fed rats than in the controls and was concomitant with a decrease in the PC levels of the ethanol-fed hepatocytes. The results obtained after exposing the cells to 100 mM ethanol in vitro indicate that in general the hepatocytes from ethanol-fed rats exhibit a higher lipogenic activity than the control cells. The only difference in the response to ethanol in vitro was found in the biosynthesis of phosphatidylserine (PS) from serine, which rose significantly in control cells but was unaffected in alcoholic hepatocytes. We put this difference in response down to specific adaptation to ethanol feeding.