Arctic reindeer exhibit marked seasonal changes in fat deposition and mobilization. At intervals throughout the year, therefore, we have measured feed intake of both Svalbard (SR) and Norwegian reindeer (NR) together with the seasonal changes in size, lipogenic and lipolytic capacity of isolated adipocytes from both sub-species. Feed intake of both NR and SR was maximal in August, but declined thereafter, reaching minimum values in January (NR) and March (SR), 55 and 69% below the August value, respectively. NR and SR adipocyte volume changed in parallel and were reduced to the same extent (69%) from their maximum in August to their minimum in May. Adipocyte lipogenic capacity, measured as acetate incorporation into cellular lipid at saturated acetate concentrations, was lowest in January (NR adipocytes) and March (SR adipocytes), 92 and 90%, respectively, below the maximum values, which were obtained in August. Lipolytic capacity, measured as maximum adrenaline-stimulated glycerol release, was high in SR adipocytes from March through to October and in NR adipocytes from July through to January. Minimum lipolytic capacity, on the other hand, was found in January (SR adipocytes) and March (NR adipocytes). The present findings may be explained by alterations in lipogenic enzyme activity and in the lipolytic activation system.