We sought to determine the effects of supplementary choline, carnitine and a combination of the two with or without exercise on serum and urinary carnitine and biochemical markers of fatty acid oxidation in healthy humans. Nineteen women were placed in three groups: 1) placebo, choline or carnitine preloading period of 1 wk followed by 2) supplementation with choline plus carnitine during wk 2-wk 3 and 3) all groups exercised in wk 3. Although there were no changes in the placebo group, serum and urinary carnitine decreased in the choline-supplemented group during wk 1. Introduction of carnitine to the choline group restored serum and urinary carnitine. Serum and urinary carnitine increased during wk 1 in the carnitine-supplemented group and, although the introduction of choline to this group depressed serum and urinary carnitine, they remained significantly greater than control. Serum beta-hydroxybutyrate and serum as well as urinary acetylcarnitine were elevated by the supplements. A mild exercise regimen increased the concentration of serum beta-hydroxybutyrate, and serum and urinary acylcarnitines; it also decreased serum leptin concentrations in all groups. The effects of supplements were sustained until wk 2 after cessation of choline plus carnitine supplementation and exercise. We conclude that the choline-induced decrease in serum and urinary carnitine is buffered by carnitine preloading, and these supplements shift tissue partitioning of carnitine that favors fat mobilization, incomplete oxidation of fatty acids and disposal of their carbons in urine as acylcarnitines in humans.