Rates of acylcarnitine oxidation by isolated heart mitochondria from various animal species were measured polarographically, and by using a spectrophotometric assay [see Osmundsen & Bremer (1977) Biochem. J. 164, 621-633]. Polarographic measurements do not give a correct guide to abilities to beta-oxidize very-long-chain acylcarnitines, in particular C22:1 fatty acylcarnitines. 2. No significant species differences were detected in the abilities to beta-oxidize various C22:1 fatty acylcarnitines. Significant species differences were, however, detected when rates of beta-oxidation were correlated with rates of respiration brought about by very-long-chain acylcarnitines. We concluded that some aspects of oxidative metabolism (possibly the oxidation of tricarboxylic acid-cycle intermediates) are inhibited by very-long-chain fatty acids in some species (e.g. the rat and the cat but not in others (e.g. the pig and the rabbit). 3. It is proposed that the pattern of variation of rates of oxidation of various acylcarnitines (as measured spectrophotometrically) of various chain lengths can be used as a guide to the chain-length specificities of the acyl-CoA dehydrogenases of beta-oxidation (EC

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