The effects of lithium, an inhibitor of the recycling of inositol in the phosphatidylinositol cycle, on rabbit blastocyst growth and metabolism of phosphoinositides were investigated. Day 2 rabbit morulae were first cultured for 2 days in basic culture medium and then transferred to medium containing myo-[2-3H]inositol for culture for a further 3 days. At the end of culture, the resulting blastocysts were incubated with LiCl (0, 1, 5, 10, 20 mmol l−1) for 1 h. The blastocysts were then lysed and both the aqueous and lipid portions were analysed for incorporated radioactivity. Thin layer chromatographic separation of the lipid portion indicated that lithium had no significant effect on formation of radiolabelled phosphoinositides. However, high performance anion exchange chromatography indicated that lithium significantly stimulated accumulation of radiolabelled inositol monophosphate and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate. This result indicates that the phosphatidylinositol cycle is turning over in rabbit blastocysts. Continuous culture of rabbit embryos for 5 days in media containing LiCl (5, 10, 15 and 20 mmol l−1) significantly decreased blastocyst growth as measured by blastocyst expansion and incorporation of [3H]thymidine. However, supplementing the medium with excess inositol (up to 9375 μmol l−1), in an attempt to increase the intracellular uptake of inositol and thus compensate for the inhibitory effect of lithium on inositol recycling, did not reverse the inhibitory effect of lithium on blastocyst growth.