Carnitine, a quaternary amino acid, plays an important role in the oxidation of long chain fatty acids. Both breast milk and infant formulas contain carnitine. However, it is not routinely provided in parenteral nutrition solutions. Non supplemented parenterally fed infants have very low tissue carnitine levels. The clinical significance of this is uncertain. Carnitine deficiency may be an etiological factor in the limited ability of premature babies to utilize parenteral lipid. In vitro studies have suggested that fatty acid oxidation is impaired when the tissue carnitine levels fall below 10% of normal. Therefore relative carnitine deficiency may impair fatty acid oxidation, thus reducing the available energy and impairing growth.