The lipid composition of whole leaves and isolated plastoglobul of beech (Fagus sylvatica) has been studied during four natural autumnal senescence stages. Chlorophylls, glycolipids, and phospholipids were extensively degraded in leaves. About 20% of the glycolipids found in leaves during summer, however, remained in the last stage of leaf senescence. Triacylglycerols, also detected in large amounts in summer leaves, were hydrolyzed during senescence. The content of free fatty acids derived from degradation of glycerolipids therefore increased. The total carotenoid and prenyl quinone content was largely unchanged during senescence, except during the last stage investigated, but the reduced forms of prenyl quinones decreased while the oxidized prenyl quinones increased. Plastoglobuli isolated from summer leaves mainly contained triacylglycerols, plastohydroquinone, and α-tocopherol. The triacylglycerol content declined in plastoglobuli during senescence. Most of the triacylglycerols must be located outside the plastoglobuli throughout the stages investigated. Carotenoids liberated from thylakoids were esterified and increasingly deposited in plastoglobuli during senescence. In the last senescence stage, carotenoid esters were the main component of plastoglobuli. Prenyl quinones were also transferred into plastoglobuli. Reduced prenyl quinones were sucessively oxidized during senescence and plastoquinone (oxidized) was the predominant prenyl quinone in plastoglobuli isolated from the last senescence stage. The carotenoid and prenyl quinone distribution was identical in leaves and plastoglobuli during late senescence. The main constituents of thylakoids, glycolipids and proteins, were not deposited in plastoglobuli and therefore did not play an important role in plastoglobuli metabolism.