1. Triacylglycerol extraction by subcutaneous adipose tissue and forearm muscle was studied in nine normal subjects after an overnight fast and after the consumption of a mixed meal.
2. There was an inverse correlation between the total plasma fractional triacylglycerol extraction across the adipose tissue and the fasting arterial plasma triacylglycerol concentration. In contrast, there was no correlation between the lower fractional triacylglycerol extraction across the forearm muscle and the fasting plasma triacylglycerol concentration.
3. Chylomicron-triacylglycerol concentrations in arterial(ized) plasma increased post-prandially and peaked at 240–300 min. There was a comparable increase in the very-low-density lipoprotein-triacylglycerol concentration, peaking at 300 min.
4. Clearance of chylomicron-triacylglycerol by adipose tissue increased after the meal (P <0.05). In contrast, the clearance of very-low-density lipoprotein-triacylglycerol by adipose tissue decreased post-prandially (P <0.05).
5. Although there was significant uptake of chylomicron-triacylglycerol by the forearm muscle post-prandially, this was less than by the adipose tissue. Very-low-density lipoprotein-triacylglycerol was unaffected by passage through the forearm muscle at any time.
6. We conclude that the extraction of lipoprotein-triacylglycerol by human adipose tissue is important in determining the fasting plasma triacylglycerol concentration. Chylomicron-triacylglycerol, appearing in the plasma post-prandially, may compete with very-low-density lipoprotein-triacylglycerol for clearance by adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase, and this mechanism may explain, at least in part, the post-prandial rise in very-low-density lipoprotein-triacylglycerol. Forearm muscle, in contrast, appears to play a much smaller role in the extraction of plasma triacylglycerol, especially that in the very-low-density lipoprotein fraction.