The pattern of fatty acids synthesized by mammary-gland explants from rabbits during pregnancy and early lactation has been studied. From day 12 to day 18 of pregnancy, long-chain (C(14:0)-C(18:1)) fatty acids were the major products. From day 18 to day 21 of pregnancy there was an increase of up to 12-fold in the rate of fatty acid synthesis per unit wet weight of tissue that was almost exclusively caused by the synthesis of octanoic fatty acid and decanoic fatty acid, which are characteristic of rabbit milk. These medium-chain fatty acids were mainly incorporated into triglycerides. From day 22 to day 27 of pregnancy there was little change in the rate of fatty acid synthesis and the proportions of fatty acids synthesized were essentially the same as those synthesized by the lactating gland, i.e. 80-90% octanoic acid plus decanoic acid. About 2-4 days before parturition a second lipogenic stimulus occurred, although the pattern of fatty acids synthesized did not change.