The aim of this study was to compare the effects of supplementing dairy cows with 1000 IU/day of all-rac-α-tocopheryl acetate (SynAc), RRR-α-tocopheryl acetate (NatAc), or RRR-α-tocopherol (NatAlc), from approximately 3 weeks before estimated calving until 2 weeks after calving, on the concentration of α-tocopherol and its stereoisomers (RRR-, RSS-, RRS-, RSR- and the four 2S-forms of α-tocopherol) in blood and milk. An unsupplemented group was included as control. Blood samples were collected at 3, 2 and 1 weeks before estimated calving, at calving, and 3, 7 and 14 days after calving, while milk samples were taken twice within 24 h after calving and at 7 and 14 days in milk. Overall, time and treatment had significant effects on plasma α-tocopherol with higher concentrations in NatAc than in the other groups. In addition, SynAc had higher concentrations than Control, and NatAlc tended to be higher than Control. The lowest plasma concentrations were observed at calving and 3 days after calving. Independent of treatment, the concentration was higher in colostrum than in milk day 7 and 14 after calving. Analyses of the stereoisomer distribution in plasma and milk showed that, irrespective of dietary treatment, RRR-α-tocopherol was the most predominant form, constituting more than 86%, whereas the remaining part of α-tocopherol was made up by the three synthetic 2R isomers, while the 2S isomers only contributed less than 1% of the total α-tocopherol. In control cows and cows supplemented with natural vitamin E, the proportion of RRR-α-tocopherol in plasma and milk constituted more than 98% of the total α-tocopherol. In conclusion, the results indicate that daily oral supplementation of dairy cows with RRR-α-tocopheryl acetate gives the highest blood concentrations of α-tocopherol in the periparturient period. Analyses of the distribution of the individual stereoisomers of α-tocopherol further indicate that the bioavailability of RRR-α-tocopherol relative to synthetic stereoisomers in cattle is considerably higher than officially accepted until now.