3-sn-Phosphatidylcholine was identified as the major lipid in cotyledons from the developing seeds of soya bean, linseed and safflower when tissue was steamed before lipid extraction. Incubation for up to 3h changed the composition of this lipid and of diacylglycerol. Labelling studies, including pulse-chase experiments, were carried out with (1-/sup 14/C) acetate and (2-/sup 3/H) glycerol supplied to detached cotyledons. The results suggest a rapid turnover of 3-sn-phosphatidylcholine during triacylglycerol accumulation in developing oilseeds, and are consistent with the operation of a biosynthetic route whereby oleate initially esterified to the phospholipid is first desaturated, then polyunsaturated fatty acids transferred to triacylglycerol, via diacylglycerol. The possible role of oleoyl phosphatidylcholine as a substrate for oleate desaturation is discussed.