The hydrolysis of steryl esters on thin-layer chromatographic plates by porcine pancreatic lipase is described. The sterols and fatty acids produced were separated on the same plate, recovered, and analysed by gas-liquid chromatography for their compositions. Synthetic cholesteryl esters containing various saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and synthetic steryl oleates with various sterols were lipolysed along with steryl esters of Acanthus ilicifolius, Bruguiera gymnorhiza and Rhizophora mucronata mangrove leaves. The major sterol was sitosterol which was accompanied by cholesterol, campesterol, stigmasterol and 28-isofucosterol. In addition, stigmast-7-en-3β-ol was present in R. mucronata leaves. The component fatty acids found in all three species were 16:0, 18:0, 18:1, 18:2 and 18:3. The relative proportions of the sterols and fatty acids were significantly different from the chemotaxonomic standpoint. The results obtained by carrying out plate lipolysis for 45 min at 40° compared well with those produced by conventional chemical hydrolysis. © 1984.