1. Studies were carried out to test the assumptions involved in the calculation of free fatty acid (FFA) and triglyceride transport rates from the plasma radioactivity curves after the intravenous administration of labelled fatty acid or of pre-labelled lipoprotein triglyceride.
2. Plasma FFA equilibrates reversibly with the interstitial lymph. This makes it necessary to use either a pulse injection, with analysis of the results in terms of a two-compartment model, or continuous infusion of the label in determining the FFA flux.
3. The recycling of labelled fatty acid due to direct hydrolysis of plasma triglyceride accounted for less than 5% of the total plasma FFA flux and did not appreciably affect the plasma triglyceride disappearance curve after endogenous labelling with 14C-labelled fatty acid. Turnover values calculated from triglyceride in unfractionated plasma represent mainly the very-low-density lipoprotein triglyceride transport. The distribution space of plasma triglyceride was found to be equal to the plasma volume.
4. Our findings suggest a complex relation between plasma triglyceride concentration and its transport kinetics. The plasma triglyceride concentration is determined by the rates of influx and efflux, and this concentration also regulates its own production and removal. Evidence obtained from the endogenous labelling technique and after experimental hypertriglyceridaemia suggests the application of enzyme kinetic models to characterize plasma triglyceride transport.