Fertile chicken eggs were injected with various concentrations of either d-glucose or l-glucose during the first three days of embryonic development. The exogenous glucose concentrations ranged from 0 to 18.58 micromol/kg egg. At 18 days of development (theoretical stage 44), brains, livers, and blood from chorio-allantoic vessels were isolated from living embryos. Exogenous d-glucose and l-glucose caused increased plasma d-glucose levels, increased plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activities, and decreased embryo viability. Embryo viability was monitored by a reduction in the percentage of living embryos at theoretical stage 44, reduced embryo masses, reduced brain masses, and reduced liver masses. When compared to controls, embryonic exposure to either exogenous d-glucose or l-glucose caused increased caspase-3 activities and increased lipid hydroperoxide (LPO) levels in both brain and liver tissues. Because lipid hydroperoxides are lipid peroxidation intermediates that result in the attack of any unsaturated neutral lipid or unsaturated phospholipid, the effect of exogenous glucose on hepatic membrane fatty acid composition was studied. Exogenous glucose (either d-glucose or l-glucose) promoted reduced levels of several unsaturated, long-chain fatty acids and increased levels of saturated, short-chain fatty acids within hepatic membranes. Exogenous-glucose induced decreases in the ratios of unsaturated/saturated fatty acids and long-chain/short-chain fatty acids within hepatic membranes which strongly correlated with glucose-induced increases in plasma ALT activities and moderately correlated to hepatic LPO levels. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that embryonic hyperglycemia promotes hepatic membrane lipid peroxidation and hepatic cell death.