The mechanisms by which dietary fat influences fasting plasma lipid concentrations have been investigated in hyperlipidaemic subjects. The synthetic and fractional catabolic (FCR) rates of the apoprotein B (apo B) of very-low density (VLDL) and low-density (LDL) lipoproteins were measured using radioiodinated autologous lipoproteins. Reductions of LDL concentration in eight subjects during low-fat (25% of energy) diets were largely explained by diminished synthesis (-20%, P less than 0.02), and possibly also by an increased FCR (+15%, P = 0.05) of LDL, compared with observations made during a high-fat (45% of energy) diet of similar fatty acid composition. VLDL apo B synthesis and FCR were not significantly altered. When a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids was exchanged for one high in saturated fatty acids (fat providing 45% of energy on both occasions) in four subjects, the synthetic rates of both VLDL apo B (-31%, P less than 0.02) and LDL apo B (-23%, P less than 0.10) were reduced while their FCRs were unchanged.