Five subjects ingested in a single oral dose containing 50 mg each of 2R,4'R,8'R-alpha-(5,7-(C2H3)2)tocopheryl acetate (d6-RRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate) with natural stereochemistry, and of 2S,4'R,8'R-alpha-(5-C2H3)tocopheryl acetate (d3-SRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate). These are two of eight stereoisomers in synthetic vitamin E. By day 1 the plasma and red blood cells were enriched fourfold with d6-RRR-alpha-tocopherol (P less than 0.004). The ratio of d6-RRR-/d2-SRR- further increased over the succeeding 4 days, because the d3-SRR- decreased at a faster rate than did the d6-RRR-stereoisomer. Plasma and lipoproteins were isolated at intervals during the first day, and daily for 3 days, from four additional subjects fed a mixture of equal amounts of the deuterated tocopherols. The plasma contained similar concentrations of the two forms until 11 h, when the d6-RRR-alpha-tocopherol concentration became significantly greater (P less than 0.05). The chylomicrons contained similar concentrations of the two deuterated tocopherols, but the VLDL (very low density lipoproteins) became preferentially enriched in d6-RRR-alpha-tocopherol by 11 h. The pattern of the deuterated tocopherols shows that during chylomicron catabolism all of the plasma lipoproteins were labeled equally with both tocopherols, but that during the subsequent VLDL catabolism the low and high density lipoproteins became enriched in d6-RRR-alpha-tocopherol. These results suggest the existence of a mechanism in the liver for assembling VLDL preferentially enriched in RRR- relative to SRR-alpha-tocopherol.