The fate of [3H]cholesterol carried in chylomicrons prepared from rats given a meal of palm oil (rich in long-chain saturated fatty acids), olive oil (rich in monounsaturated fatty acids) or corn oil (rich in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids) was investigated in vivo in rats fed a low-fat diet or a diet supplemented with the corresponding oil (to provide 40% of the calories) for 21 days. In the low-fat-fed groups, radioactivity was removed from the blood and secreted into bile over 180 min more rapidly when the chylomicrons were derived from corn oil as compared to palm or olive oil. After feeding the corresponding high-fat diets, however, both parameters were decreased in rats fed palm and corn oil, but not olive oil. As a result of these changes, the rates of removal of radioactivity from the blood and secretion into bile were similar in animals given the olive oil and corn oil diets, and higher than those in rats fed the palm oil diet. All the high-fat diets tended to increase the proportion of the radioactivity in the plasma found in the 1.006-1.050-g/ml fraction (low-density lipoprotein) and decrease that in the 1.050-1.25-g/ml (high-density lipoprotein) fraction in comparison to the respective low-fat diet groups, but the transfer of radioactivity to the plasma high-density lipoprotein fraction was particularly slow in palm-oil-fed rats. These findings indicate that diets high in saturated or n-6 polyunsaturated fat retard the metabolism of chylomicron cholesterol in comparison to diets low in fat, while those high in monounsaturated fat do not have this effect. As a consequence of this, the rate of removal of cholesterol of dietary origin from the body is slower in animals fed saturated as compared to monounsaturated or n-6 polyunsaturated fat. Thus, differential metabolism of chylomicron cholesterol clearly plays an important role in the hyper- and hypo-cholesterolaemic effects of these dietary fats.