The concentrations of lactose, glucose, glucose 6-phosphate, glucose 1-phosphate, UDPglucose, UDPgalactose, UDP, UMP, inorganic phosphate, ADP and AMP (metabolites involved in the lactose synthesis pathway), and cAMP, galactose and fructose were measured in the mammary secretion from sucked (n = 9) and unsucked (n = 4) mammary glands of nine sows during the first 5 d post partum. The concentrations of lactose, glucose, galactose and fructose were also measured in plasma during this time. The progressive increase in the concentration of lactose, and changes in the concentrations of cellular metabolites in the mammary secretion from sucked glands were consistent with an increase in the metabolic activity of those glands during lactogenesis II. In contrast, unsucked glands showed a progressive decrease in the concentration of lactose, while the concentrations of cellular metabolites in the milk generally remained unchanged. These results indicated that there was no increase in the metabolic activity of unsucked glands (no increase in lactose synthesis or utilization of glucose and ATP) and that the rate of lactose synthesis prior to milk removal was limited by the availability of glucose and/or UDPgalactose. Therefore, the removal of colostrum from the mammary gland was necessary for an increase in the rate of lactose synthesis (and probably de novo fatty acid synthesis) and implies that autocrine mechanisms are operating to control the rate of milk synthesis during lactogenesis in the sow. The low concentration of glucose in colostrum compared with that in plasma is discussed in view of the paracellular pathway.