Measurements of transport of triglycerides (TG) in very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) were carried out in 59 patients by injection of radioactive glycerol, determinations of specific activities of VLDL-TG for 48 h thereafter, and treatment of the data by multicompartmental analysis. The patients were divided into three groups: normal weight (89-120% ideal weight), mildly obese (120-135% ideal weight), and markedly obese (135% ideal weight). They had varying levels of VLDL-TG ranging from normal to markedly elevated. In many subjects, there was a positive correlation between concentrations and transport of VLDL indicating that overproduction of VLDL-TG contributed to hypertriglyceridemia. In others, and particularly in several markedly obese subjects, transport rates were greatly increased without significant hypertriglyceridemia, suggesting that they had enhanced capacity to clear TG. In all groups, however, there were patients whose degree of hypertriglyceridemia seemed out of proportion to their transport rates. This finding and the fact that many patients have increased secretion of VLDL-TG without elevated plasma TG suggests that both overproduction of VLDL-TG and insufficient enhancement of clearance contributed to the development of hypertriglyceridemia.The data showed a poor correlation between transport rates determined by our multicompartment analysis and single-exponential analysis used previously by other investigators (r = 0.46); this comparison was not improved by segregating patients according to their degree of obesity. Although two conversion pathways (fast and slow synthetic paths) were required to fit the data, there was no correlation between transport rates and the ratio of the two pathways. Also, despite the known pathway of conversion of VLDL to low density lipoprotein, no correlation was found between VLDL-TG transport rates and estimated low density lipoprotein-cholesterol concentrations.