1. The esterification of exogenous palmitate to diglyceride and triglyceride in adipocytes was studied in obese and diabetic patients with and without hypertriglyceridaemia. The rate of esterification correlated significantly with the triglyceride content of adipocytes.
2. In diabetic patients with hypertriglyceridaemia, the rate of esterification to triglyceride was significantly greater than in diabetic patients with normotriglyceridaemia. This difference could not be attributed to differences in glucose tolerance or to the degree of obesity.
3. Fasting plasma insulin levels were greater in the hypertriglyceridaemic group than in the normotriglyceridaemic group. The difference in esterification rates could have been due to differences in adipocyte size.
4. The esterification of fatty acid in adipose tissue of diabetic patients was lower than in non-diabetic subjects and this difference could not be accounted for by differences in adipocyte size or differences in the intracellular pools of fatty acid in adipose tissue.
5. The role of esterification of exogenous fatty acids in adipose tissue as a possible determinant of the uptake of glyceride fatty acids from plasma is discussed.