Changes in intracellular carnitine, ATP and glycogen concentration were studied when hepatocytes of newborn or adult rats were incubated with oleate, lactate and/or carnitine. Hepatocytes of adult rats appeared to be able to maintain cellular carnitine concentration without exogenous carnitine supplementation. Hepatocytes of newborn rats appeared to be unable to maintain cellular carnitine concentration without carnitine supplementation. Moreover, ATP concentration and glycogen concentration were significantly increased by the carnitine supplement with oleate and/or lactate compared to the unsupplemented group. Increases in both intracellular ATP and carnitine concentration depended on the concentration of carnitine added to the medium. These results suggest that carnitine may be an important factor in glycogen synthesis and ATP production of newborn infants.