Summary. Metabolic adaptations of goat mammary tissue during pregnancy and lactation were monitored in serial biopsies of the tissue. Changes in the synthetic capacity of secretory cells were studied by combining measurements of enzyme activities with short-term culture of mammary explants to measure lactose, casein and total protein synthesis. By these criteria, the main phase of mammary differentiation began in late pregnancy and was essentially complete by Week 5 of lactation, coinciding with the achievement of peak milk yield. While milk yield declined after Week 5, the activities of key enzymes expressed per mg DNA and the rates of lactose and casein synthesis in mammary explants were maintained over a considerable period. The results suggest that changes in the synthetic capacity of epithelial cells may account for much of the rise in milk yield in early lactation, but are not responsible for the declining phase of milk production characteristic of lactation in ruminants.