The influence of the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) composition of the diet on the rate of fatty acid turnover of individual phospholipids in the erythrocyte membrane in vivo was studied. Following modification of the fatty acid composition of the membrane phospholipids by the use of a fish oil or a linoleic acid enriched diet, phospholipids--labelled in the unsaturated fatty acid at the 2-position of the glycerol moiety--were introduced into the membrane of freshly isolated rabbit erythrocytes. Thereafter, the labelled erythrocytes were reinjected into the bloodstream of the animal. It appears that, with the exception of 1-palmitoyl,2-linoleoyl phosphatidylcholine, all other phosphatidylcholines disappear faster from the erythrocytes of fish oil-fed rabbits than from the red cells of linoleic acid-fed rabbits. Another parameter, which possibly influences the turnover rates of PUFA containing phospholipids, can be peroxidation. An attempt was made to measure peroxidative damage of lipids in vivo by the introduction of 1-palmitoyl,2-cis-parinaroyl phosphatidylcholine (PnPC)--a probe to measure oxidative stress--into the membrane of freshly isolated erythrocytes, in the same way as is described for the radioactive phospholipids. The data demonstrate that the fluorescent signal from the PnPC decreases at a fast rate which is independent of the dietary conditions.