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The aim of this paper was to describe how the age, sex and reproductive state of hares affected the amount of fat found around their left kidney. A total of 2208 hares (Lepus europaeus) was shot and autopsied over 13 years from sub-alpine grasslands in Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand. Adult females may be pregnant from July to mid-March. Adult males' testis weights were highest from July to January, and some fertile males may have been present in all months but April. The amount of perirenal fat in adults increased in autumn, peaked in early winter, and decreased thereafter to low levels through spring and summer. Autumn fat deposition in males was not clearly related to reproductive state in individuals, although it coincided with seasonal testicular development. Autumn fat deposition in females may have been caused in part by the cessation of lactation, but, like that in males, the increase was also part of an endogenous pattern. Fat utilization in winter was related to breeding. In males, utilization coincided with reproductive activity and the amount of perirenal fat remained consistently low throughout the breeding season. In females, net fat utilization was associated with lactation but this was balanced to some extent by fat deposition induced by pregnancy. Females simultaneously lactating and pregnant were in finer balance between utilization and deposition. Other factors, such as the number of embryos and the stage of gestation, altered the fat balance in these hares. Fat was also deposited as a ‘yolk-sac’ in embryos.