In contrast to the complete absence of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) mRNA in adult rat liver, fetal and neonatal rat liver contain substantial amounts of LPL mRNA, which is translated in active LPL protein as can be deduced from the presence of LPL activity in this organ. At this neonatal stage, both the relative abundance of LPL mRNA and LPL activity increased with starvation. During the suckling period, LPL mRNA and LPL activity gradually decreased until both parameters were undetectable. While the administration of L-thyroxine or hydrocortisone enhanced the disappearance of LPL mRNA, induced hypothyroidism delayed its disappearance. In adult animals induced hypothyroidism could not reactivate LPL mRNA production in the liver. The data presented suggest that liver LPL production responds to changes in the nutritional state and becomes extinguished during development, in a fashion reminiscent to the extinction of alpha-fetoprotein. This extinction of LPL gene expression is influenced by hormonal factors.