The relationship between fatty acid binding proteins, ATP citrate lyase activity and fatty acid synthesis in developing human placenta has been studied. Fatty acid binding proteins reverse the inhibitory efect of palmitoyl-CoA and oleate on ATP citrate lyase and fatty acid synthesis. In the absence of these inhibitors fatty acid binding proteins activate ATP citrate lyase and stimulate [ 1-14 C] acetate incorporation into placental fatty acids indicating binding of endogenous inhibitors by these proteins. Thus these proteins regulate the supply of acetyl-CoA as well as the synthesis of fatty acids from that substrates. As gestation proceeds and more lipids are required by the developing placenta fatty acid binding protein content, activity of ATP citrate lyase and rate of fatty acid synthesis increase indicating a cause and efect relationship between the demand of lipids and supply of precursor fatty acids during human placental development. © 1991 Indian Academy of Sciences.