The amounts of free sterols, steryl esters and lipid phosphorus were determined in the sapwood and heartwood of mature, and in the outer and inner sapwood of young Pinus sylvestris trees. In the mature trees (up to 70 years old) the heartwood contains significantly higher amounts of free sterols than the sapwood. No radial gradient can be demonstrated in the amounts of steryl esters. Lipids extracted from the sapwood contain higher amounts of phosphorus than those from the heartwood. Stems of young Pinus sylvestris trees (up to 13 years old) show in the inner sapwood higher amounts of both free sterols and steryl esters than the peripheral younger wood zone. The inner sapwood of the young stems shows slightly higher amounts of lipid phosphorus than the outer sapwood. The results indicate that Pinus sylvestris accumulates both free sterols and steryl esters in the stems at a very early stage of the life cycle. Sterol accumulation in the innermost parts of the stems seems not to depend on heartwood formation.