Comparison of the Bligh and Dyer and Folch methods for total lipid determination in a broad range of marine tissue

Lipids. 2001 Nov;36(11):1283-7. doi: 10.1007/s11745-001-0843-0.


For many studies, it is important to measure the total lipid content of biological samples accurately. The Bligh and Dyer method of extraction was developed as a rapid but effective method for determining total lipid content in fish muscle. However, it is also widely used in studies measuring total lipid content of whole fish and other tissues. Although some investigators may have used modified Bligh and Dyer procedures, rarely have modifications been specified nor has their effectiveness been quantitatively evaluated. Thus, we compared this method with that of the classic Folch extraction in determining total lipid content of fish samples ranging from 0.5 to 26.6% lipid. We performed both methods as originally specified, i.e., using the chloroform/methanol/water ratios of 1:2:0.8 and 2:2:1.8 (before and after dilution, respectively) for Bligh and Dyer and of 8:4:3 for Folch, and with the initial solvent/sample ratios of (3+1):1 (Bligh and Dyer) and 20:1 (Folch). We also compared these with several other solvent/sample ratios. In samples containing <2% lipid, the results of the two methods did not differ. However, for samples containing >2% lipid, the Bligh and Dyer method produced significantly lower estimates of lipid content, and this underestimation increased significantly with increasing lipid content of the sample. In the highest lipid samples, lipid content was underestimated by up to 50% using the Bligh and Dyer method. However, we found a highly significant linear relationship between the two methods, which will permit the correction of reported lipid levels in samples previously analyzed using an unmodified Bligh and Dyer extraction. In the future, modifications to procedures and solvent/sample ratios should be described.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biochemistry / methods*
  • Fishes
  • Invertebrates / chemistry*
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Lipids / chemistry


  • Lipids