Periportal and perivenous hepatocytes were isolated from rats fed a high-fat, ethanol-containing diet to investigate the acinar heterogeneity of the effects of prolonged ethanol administration on lipid metabolism. Chronic feeding of ethanol caused a rather selective accumulation of triacylglycerols in the perivenous zone of the liver. In control animals the rate of lipogenesis and the activity of acetyl-CoA carboxylase were higher in perivenous than in periportal hepatocytes, whereas the rate of fatty acid oxidation and the activity of carnitine palmitoyltransferase I were higher in periportal than in perivenous cells; however, no zonation was evident for very-low-density-lipoprotein-lipid secretion. Prolonged ethanol administration abolished the zonal asymmetry of the lipogenic process and inverted the acinar distribution of the fatty acid—oxidative process (i.e., in ethanol-fed animals the rate of fatty acid oxidation and the activity of carnitine palmitoyltransferase I were higher in perivenous than in periportal hepatocytes). Moreover, chronic feeding of ethanol led to a marked and selective inhibition of very-low-density-lipoproteintriacylglycerol secretion by the perivenous zone of the liver. Nevertheless, no zonal differences were observed between control and ethanol-fed animals with respect to the effects of acute doses of ethanol and acetaldehyde on lipid metabolism. In conclusion, our results show that chronic ethanol intake produces important alterations in the acinar distribution of the different fatty acid—metabolizing pathways. (HEPATOLOGY 1990; 12:1098–1105).