The effect of dietary octacosanol, a long-chain alcohol, on lipid metabolism was investigated in rats fed on a high-fat diet for 20 d. The addition of octacosanol (10 g/kg diet) to the high-fat diet led to a significant reduction (P < 0·05) in the perirenal adipose tissue weight without decrease of the cell number, suggesting that octacosanol may suppress lipid accumulation in this tissue, whereas no effect was seen in the epididymal adipose tissue weight and in the lipid content in liver. Octacosanol supplementation decreased the serum triacylglycerol concentration, and enhanced the concentration of serum fatty acids, probably through inhibition of hepatic phosphatidate phosphohydrolase (EC 3·1·3·4). Though the activity of hormone-sensitive lipase (EC 3·1·1·3) was not influenced by octacosanol, higher activities of lipoprotein lipase (EC 3·1·1·34) in the perirenal adipose tissue and the total oxidation rate of fatty acid in muscle were observed. Lipid absorption was not affected by the inclusion of octacosanol. Thus, the present results suggest that the dietary incorporation of octacosanol into a high-fat diet affects some aspects of lipid metabolism.