Incubations of p-nitrophenyl fatty acyl esters and estradiol-17β fatty acyl 17-esters with porcine esterase, human mammary tumor cytosol and rat uterine cytosol leads to ester hydrolysis of compounds with short chain fatty acids. Esters with long chain fatty acids show no hydrolysis except in the presence of Tween 80. Short chain fatty acid esters have a higher binding potency to the estrogen receptor than long chain fatty acid esters. Extraction of the nuclear receptor peak sedimenting at 4.6S and identification of the steroid showed that about 90% of the radioactivity was associated with estradiol and only 10% with estradiol esters. These studies show that estradiol fatty acyl esters act as a storage form from which estradiol is released by enzymatic hydrolysis.