Cholesterol and phospholipid concentrations in serum lipoproteins, plasma activities of lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) and phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP) and lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity in adipose tissue biopsies were measured ante and post partum in dairy cows given either free or restricted access to feed during the dry period. After parturition, all cows were fed ad libitum. The purpose of this study was to try to understand the earlier observed marked drop post partum in plasma triacylglycerol (TAG) in terms of lipoprotein metabolism in cows developing fatty liver post partum. As would be expected, free access to feed during the dry period induced a rise of hepatic TAG concentrations post partum associated with a decrease in plasma TAG levels. Total and free cholesterol concentrations in the VLDL, IDL, LDL and HDL2 fractions fell immediately after parturition. VLDL and IDL cholesterol concentrations remained at a constant, low level during the entire sampling period post partum, whereas the drop in LDL and HDL2 cholesterol post partum was followed by a rebound rise. Plasma LCAT and PLTP activities decreased by on average 19% and 33%, respectively, after parturition and then rose to values seen before parturition, but there was no effect of feeding regimen during the dry period. Activities of LCAT and PLTP were significantly correlated with cholesterol and phospholipid concentrations in LDL and HDL2. Plasma LCAT activity, as measured with exogenous substrate, and PLTP activity were both positively correlated with HDL3 phospholipid levels. LPL activity in adipose tissue dropped after parturition, the drop being smaller after feeding ad libitum during the dry period. It is concluded that the drop in adipose tissue LPL activity post partum is at variance with the simultaneous fall in plasma TAG. Possibly, the decrease in adipose tissue LPL activity helps to channel fatty acids away from adipose tissue into the udder. The post-partum changes in lipid transfer proteins in the blood are in line with the changes observed in the levels of the lipoproteins.