1. Percutaneous liver biopsy specimens were obtained from 11 control subjects, 24 alcoholic patients and six diabetic patients with mild to severe fatty liver and incubated in Krebs–Henseleit buffer containing 3H2O. The incorporation of 3H into fatty acid was measured and the absolute rate of fatty acid synthesis calculated.
2. Fatty acid synthesis rates were significantly lower in alcoholic fatty liver than in controls.
3. Fatty acid synthesis rates were similar in controls and patients with diabetic fatty livers.
4. Addition of 50 mmol/l ethanol did not alter the fatty acid synthesis rates in vitro. It is concluded that enhanced lipogenesis is not the major cause of fatty liver in patients with alcoholic fatty liver.