This study explores how dietary lipids are digested when intraduodenal bile salts are low or absent. Long-chain triglycerides emulsified with phosphatidylcholine were found to be hydrolyzed very slowly by pancreatic lipase alone, as if the surface layer of phospholipids enveloping the triglycerides impeded the action of the enzyme. Colipase enhanced triglyceride hydrolysis severalfold, both when added before or after the lipase. Hydrolysis became even more rapid when the emulsion was first incubated with pancreatic phospholipase. Hydrolysis of long-chain triglycerides was also severely impeded when other proteins were added to the system, probably because they adsorbed to the oil-water interface of the emulsion droplets. It was previously known that bile salts can relieve such inhibition, presumably by desorbing the adsorbed proteins. Colipase was found to enhance hydrolysis severalfold in a dose-dependent manner even in the absence of bile salts, i.e., it could partially or completely relieve the inhibition depending upon the amount and the type of inhibitory protein added to the system. Prior exposure of a protein-coated triglyceride emulsion to another lipase also enhanced the rate at which pancreatic lipase could then hydrolyze the lipids. Most dietary triglycerides are probably presented for intestinal digestion in emulsions covered by proteins and/or phospholipids. These emulsions would be hydrolyzed slowly by pancreatic lipase alone. However, through the action of the lipase in stomach contents and of pancreatic phospholipase and through the lipolysis-promoting effects of collipase, these triglycerices can be rather efficiently hydrolyzed, even in the absence of bile salts.