A sensitive method has been developed to measure specific mono-, di- and triacylglycerol concentrations in human plasma, using thin-layer chromatography and enzymatic assay. The levels of partial acylglycerols in human plasma from fasting subjects were lower than previous reports had suggested and amounted to less than 3% of the total acylglycerols. After heparin injection the plasma monoacylglycerol concentration increased markedly (P < 0.01) while the triacylglycerol concentration decreased significantly (P < 0.001). The plasma diacylglycerol concentration did not change significantly although it increased as a percentage of the total (P < 0.05); after heparin partial acylglycerols accounted for more than 10% of the total. After a high-fat meal the plasma concentrations of di- and triacylglycerol increased approximately two-fold (P < 0.005) but no significant change was observed for mono-acylglycerol. The percentage contribution of partial acylglycerols was unchanged (2.6% fasting, 2.4% postprandially).