The present study was carried out to determine whether cephalic stimulation, associated with eating a meal, was sufficient stimulus to provoke the release of stored triacylglycerol (TAG) from a previous high-fat meal. Ten subjects were studied on three separate occasions. Following a 12 h overnight fast, subjects were given a standard mixed test meal which contained 56 g fat. Blood samples were taken before the meal and for 5 h after the meal when the subjects were randomly allocated to receive either water (control) or were modified sham fed a low-fat (6 g fat) or moderate-fat (38 g fat) meal. Blood samples were collected for a further 3 h. Compared with the control, modified sham feeding a low- or moderate-fat meal did not provoke an early entry of TAG, analysed in either plasma or TAG-rich lipoprotein (TRL) fraction (density <1.006 kg/l). The TRL-retinyl ester data showed similar findings. A cephalic phase secretion of pancreatic polypeptide, without a significant increase in cholecystokinin levels, was observed on modified sham feeding. Although these data indicate that modified sham feeding was carried out successfully, analysis of the fat content of the expectorant showed that our subjects may have accidentally ingested a small amount of fat (0.7 g for the low-fat meal and 2.4 g for the moderate-fat meal). Nevertheless, an early TAG peak following modified sham feeding was not demonstrated in the present study, suggesting that significant ingestion of food, and not just oro-sensory stimulation, is necessary to provoke the release of any TAG stored from a previous meal.