We examined serum fatty acid composition in reindeer during the close postnatal period (from < 8 h to 3 weeks) by using maternal serum as a reference point and focusing on the proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in serum lipids. A striking dissimilarity was found in the serum PUFAs between the neonatals and their mothers. In particular, the proportions of linoleic acid (18:2) and alpha-linolenic acid in serum cholesteryl esters and phospholipids of the newborn reindeer were significantly lower than those of the mothers. Furthermore, serum phospholipids of the newborns had lower arachidonic acid and docosapentaenoic acid but higher docosahexaenoic acid proportions than the maternal phospholipids. Although the proportions of the principal C18 PUFAs were low in reindeer milk, they increased sharply in serum cholesteryl esters and phospholipids of the calves during the first few days after birth. In particular, there were significant positive correlations in the proportions of 18:2 between serum and milk lipids. We conclude that the proportions of the serum C18 PUFAs are low in the newborn reindeer, but they are increased during the close perinatal period by a rate which suggests an efficient mechanism for selective retention of these fatty acids from milk lipids.