Cells of the insect (procyclic) stage of the life cycle of the African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, express an abundant stage-specific glycosylated phosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchored glycoprotein, the procyclic acidic repetitive protein (PARP). The anchor is insensitive to the action of bacterial phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC), suggesting that it contains an acyl-inositol. We have recently described the structure of a PI-PLC resistant glycosylphosphatidylinositol, PP1, which is specific to the procyclic stage, and have presented preliminary evidence that the phosphatidylinositol portion of the protein-linked GPI on PARP has a similar structure. In this paper we show, by metabolic labelling with [3H]fatty acids, that the PARP anchor contains palmitate esterified to inositol, and stearate at sn-1, in a monoacylglycerol moiety, a structure identical to PP1. Using pulse-chase labelling, we show that both fatty acids are incorporated into the GPI anchor from a large pool of metabolic precursors, rather than directly from acyl-CoA. We also demonstrate that the addition of the GPI anchor moiety to PARP is dependent on de novo protein synthesis, excluding the possibility that incorporation of fatty acids into PARP can occur by a remodelling of pre-existing GPI anchors. Finally we show that the phosphatidylinositol (PI) species that are utilized for GPI biosynthesis are a subpopulation of the cellular PI molecular species. We propose that these observations may be of general validity since several other eukaryotic membrane proteins (e.g human erythrocyte acetylcholine esterase and decay accelerating factor) have been reported to contain palmitoylated inositol residues.