Several detergents activated microsomal dehydrodolichyl diphosphate synthase of rat liver, but the chain length of products shifted downward from C90 and C95 with increasing concentration of the detergents. Maximum activation was observed at the concentration of 2% Triton X-100, 30 mM octyl glucoside, 30 mM 3-[(3-cholamidopropyl)dimethylammonio]-1-propanesulfonate, and 10 mM deoxycholate with the product chain length being C80-C85, C65-C75, C70-C75, and C55-C65, respectively. The activity of Triton X-100 solubilized enzyme was decreased by asolectin, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylcholine. The chain lengths of products formed in the presence of these phospholipids were C85 and C90. In the presence of both phosphatidylcholine and Mg2+ the solubilized enzyme was able to produce C90 and C95 dehydrodolichyl diphosphates like native microsomal enzyme. Microsomal enzyme preparations from rat liver, brain, and testis catalyzed the formation of dehydrodolichyl diphosphates with the same chain lengths as those of the natural dolichols occurring in individual tissues. The chain length distribution of dehydrodolichyl products by (rat liver) microsomes also depended on the concentration of substrates. Not only did increasing the concentration of isopentenyl diphosphate lead to longer chain product, but decreasing that of farnesyl diphosphate increased product chain length.