We measured gastric lipase activity and lipolysis in postprandial gastric samples from 10 adults with steatorrhoea due to cystic fibrosis (CF) and from 10 healthy volunteers of similar age and sex. Gastric samples were aspirated for 2 h following a meal consisting of emulsified long-chain triglyceride. Mean acid-resistant lipase activity was twice as high in CF patients as in controls (596 vs. 299 nmol/ml/min fatty acid released; p = 0.028 for area under the curve). Lipolysis rose from 5 to 10% during the postprandial period in CF patients, compared with a constant 5% in controls (p = 0.036 for area under the curve). We conclude that, in healthy adults, lipolysis of long-chain triglyceride starts in the stomach, while in adults with pancreatic steatorrhoea due to CF, gastric lipase activity and intragastric lipolysis are increased, perhaps in compensation for pancreatic insufficiency.