Both lipase and esterase activities were present in intestinal contents of all newborns studied, from the first day of life. In adults given a test meal lipase activity increased and esterase activity remained unchanged. In contrast, both activities decreased markedly in infants on feeding. During the digestion of the test meal the lipase activity in intestinal contents of the infants was much lower than in adults (ratio of median values 1:27) and the esterase activity was also several fold lower (ratio of median values 1:1.3). Speculation Newborn infants often absorb lipids less efficiently than adults. One contributing factor may be that their incompletely developed pancreas responds to feedings with comparatively low outputs of lipolytic enzymes. The newborn may be more dependent than adults on auxiliary sources of lipase activity such as the pharyngeal lipase and/or the bile-stimulated lipase in human milk.