The proportion of medium-chain fatty acids (C8:0, C10:0 and C12:0) in rat milk increased significantly between day 4 and day 8 of lactation and for the remainder of lactation these acids comprised 40-50mol% of the total fatty acids. The milk fatty acid composition from day 8 was markedly dependent on the presence of dietary fat and altered to include the major fatty acids of the fats (peanut oil, coconut oil and linseed oil). The distribution of fatty acids made within the gland, however, was independent of dietary lipid and C8:0, C10:0 and C12:0 acids accounted for over 70% of the fatty acids made. The rates of lipogenesis in both the mammary gland and liver determined in vivo after the administration of 3H2O were affected by the presence of dietary lipid. In the mammary gland the rate for rats fed a diet containing peanut oil for 7 days was only one fifth that for rats fed a fat-free diet. Coconut oil also suppressed lipogenesis. Both dietary fats also suppressed lipogenesis in the liver.