Although medium chain triglyceride (MCT) is less calorically dense than long chain triglyceride (LCT), it produces a greater thermic effect following ingestion. We hypothesized that the previously observed high rate of thermogenesis produced by MCT overfeeding was due to hepatic de novo synthesis of long chain fatty acids (LCFA) from the excess medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). To study this, we compared the effects of overfeeding MCT- and LCT-containing diets on blood lipid profiles. Ten in-patient, nonobese males were overfed (150% of estimated energy requirements) two formula diets for 6 days each, in a randomized crossover design. Diets differed only in the composition of the fat and contained either 40% of energy as MCT or LCT (soybean oil). The major differences between diets in the resulting pattern of blood lipids were: 1) a reduction in fasting serum total cholesterol concentrations with the LCT, but not the MCT diet; and 2) a threefold increase in fasting serum triglyceride concentrations with MCT, but not LCT, diet. Moreover, 10% of the fasting triglyceride fatty acids were medium chain and 40% were 16:0 with the MCT diet. This compared to 1% and 20% for medium chain and 16:0, respectively, with the LCT diet. In addition, there were increases in 16:1, 18:0, and 18:1 in the triglycerides during MCT feeding. The changes in fatty acids in triglycerides with MCT feeding are consistent with the hypothesis that excess dietary MCT cause a significant increase in the hepatic synthesis of these fatty acids from MCFA through de novo synthesis and/or chain elongation and desaturation. These processes could account for the higher rate of postprandial thermogenesis with MCT as compared to LCT.