Abstract Weanling rats were fed vitamin A deficient diets (− A) or diets supplemented with vitamin A (+ A) (4.4 mg retinol equivalents/kg diet) for a period of 7 or 6 wk, respectively. In liver tissues of these two groups of animals both the subcellular localization as well as the fatty acid composition of the retinyl esters was studied. During vitamin A supplementation or deprivation, the kinetics of the different ester forms were investigated. Results indicate that the subcellular localization of all retinyl esters is similar and dependent on age. Two pools exist, ie one consisting of the nuclear/cell debris and mitochondrial-lysosomal fractions and the other containing the microsomal and cytosol fractions. HPLC analysis showed retinyl palmitate as the predominating (80%) form of the various retinyl esters. By supplementation clearly two kinetic behaviours can be demonstrated: one being a relatively stable storage of the palmitate and stearate, increasing with time and the second one being a more labile pattern for the ester forms with other saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. By vitamin A depletion all retinyl esters are affected indicating that the ester forms other than palmitate and stearate are also storage forms of vitamin A.