These studies were conducted to assess the relationship between visceral adipose tissue free fatty acid (FFA) release and splanchnic FFA release. Steady-state splanchnic bed palmitate ([9,10-(3)H]palmitate) kinetics were determined from 14 sampling intervals from eight dogs with chronic indwelling arterial, portal vein, and hepatic vein catheters. We tested a model designed to predict the proportion of FFAs delivered to the liver from visceral fat by use of hepatic vein data. The model predicted that 15 +/- 2% of hepatic palmitate delivery originated from visceral lipolysis, which was greater (P = 0.004) than the 11 +/- 2% actually observed. There was a good relationship (r(2) = 0.63) between the predicted and observed hepatic palmitate delivery values, but the model overestimated visceral FFA release more at lower than at higher palmitate concentrations. The discrepancy could be due to differential uptake of FFAs arriving from the arterial vs. the portal vein or to release of FFAs in the hepatic circulatory bed. Splanchnic FFA release measured using hepatic vein samples was strongly related to visceral adipose tissue FFA release into the portal vein. This finding suggests that splanchnic FFA release is a good indicator of visceral adipose tissue lipolysis.