Developing cotyledons of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) readily utilised exogenously supplied 14C-labelled fatty-acid substrates for the synthesis of triacylglycerols. The other major radioactive lipids were phosphatidylcholine and diacylglycerol. In safflower cotyledons, [14C]oleate was rapidly transferred to position 2 of sn-phosphatidylcholine and concomitant with this was the appearance of radioactive linoleate. The linoleate was further utilised in the synthesis of diacyl- and triacyl-glycerol via the reactions of the so-called Kennedy pathway. Supplying [14C]linoleate, however, resulted in a more rapid labelling of the diacylglycerols than from [14C]oleate. In contrast, sunflower cotyledons readily utilised both labelled acyl substrates for rapid diacylglycerol formation as well as incorporation into position 2 of sn-phosphatidylcholine. In both species, however, [14C]palmitate largely entered sn-phosphatidylcholine at position 1 during triacylglycerol synthesis. The results support our previous in-vitro observations with isolated microsomal membrane preparations that (i) the entry of oleate into position 2 of sn-phosphatidylcholine, via acyl exchange, for desaturation to linoleate is of major importance in regulating the level of polyunsaturated fatty acids available for triacylglycerol formation and (ii) Palmitate is largely excluded from position 2 of sn-phosphatidylcholine and enters this phospholipid at position 1 probably via the equilibration with diacylglycerol. Specie differences appear to exist between safflower and sunflower in relation to the relative importance of acyl exchange and the interconversion of diacylglycerol with phosphatidylcholine as mechanisms for the entry of oleate into the phospholipid for desaturation.