Effects of different dietary fats on plasma, hepatic and biliary lipids were determined in male golden Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) fed on purified diets for 7 weeks. Diets were made by blending different fats containing characteristic fatty acids: butter (14:0 + 16:0), palm stearin (16:0), coconut oil (12:0 + 14:0), rapeseed oil (18:1), olive oil (18:l) and sunflowerseed oil (18:2). In all diets except the sunflowerseed oil diet dietary 18:2 was held constant at 2% energy. Total fat supplied 12% of energy and cholesterol was added at 4 g/kg diet. Plasma cholesterol and triacyglycerol concentrations were increased by dietary cholesterol. After 7 weeks, plasma cholesterol concentrations were highest with the palm Stearin, coconut oil and olive oil diets (8·9, 8·9 and 9·2 mmol/l) and lowest with the rapeseed oil and sdowerseed oil diets (6·7 and 5·5 mmol/l) while the butter diet was intermediate (8·5 mmol/l). Hepatic cholesterol concentration was highest in hamsters fed on the olive oil diet and lowest with the palm stearin diet (228 v. 144 µmol/g liver). Biliary lipids, lithogenic index and bile acid profile of the gall-bladder bile did not differ significantly among the six diets. Although the gallstone incidence was generally low in this study, three out of 10 hamsters fed on the palm stearin diet developed cholesterol gallstones. In contrast, no cholesterol gallstones were found with the other diets. Rapeseed and dowerseed oils caused the lowest plasma cholesterol and triacyglycerol concentrations whereas olive oil failed to demonstrate a cholesterol-lowering effect compared with diets rich in saturated fatty acids. Since 18:2 was kept constant at 2% of energy in all diets, the different responses to rapeseed and olive oils could possibly be attributed to their different contents of 16:0 (5·6 % v. 12·8% respectively). Other possible explanations are discussed.