To study postheparin plasma lipase activities in nonfed newborn infants immediately after birth and to investigate the possible influence of fetal hyperinsulinemia on lipoprotein lipase activity, we measured lipoprotein and hepatic lipase activities in 55 macrosomic newborn infants: group I consisted of 21 infants born to mothers with insulin-dependent diabetes. The infants were hyperinsulinemic at birth and had hypoglycemia and poor lipolysis at the age of 2 h. Group II consisted of 18 infants born to mothers with gestational diabetes. Group III consisted of 16 large-for-date infants born to nondiabetic mothers. The mean postheparin plasma lipoprotein lipase activities at 2 h of age were similar (mean 36 mumol free fatty acids/ml/h; SEM 15) in groups I-III. Lipoprotein lipase activity correlated negatively with cord-serum triglycerides (range 0.13-1.2 mmol/liter) but did not correlate with serum insulin (range 5.4-524 microU/ml) or C-peptide (range 0.6-21.0 micrograms/liter). Hepatic lipase activity was somewhat higher in group I (mean 68 mumol free fatty acids/ml/h; SEM 23) than in groups II and III (mean 55 mumol free fatty acids/ml/h; SEM 14). Hemoglobin Alc was the only important factor explaining the difference in hepatic lipase activities between groups. Lipoproteins and apolipoproteins A-I, A-II, and B were similar in all three groups. We conclude that in large-for-date infants lipoprotein lipase is active at birth without exogenous fat induction, and that these infants are capable of hydrolyzing fat, their main source of energy, immediately after birth. In addition, we conclude that postheparin plasma lipoprotein lipase activity is not affected by fetal hyperinsulinemia.