The African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, expresses two abundant stage-specific glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored glycoproteins, the procyclic acidic repetitive protein (PARP or procyclin) in the procyclic form, and the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) in the mammalian bloodstream form. The GPI anchor of VSG can be readily cleaved by phosphatidylin ositol (PI)-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC), whereas that of PARP cannot, due to the presence of a fatty acid esterified to the inositol. In the bloodstream form trypanosome, a number of GPIs which are structurally related to the VSG GPI anchor have been identified. In addition, several structurally homologous GPIs have been described, both in vivo and in vitro, that contain acyl-inositol. In vivo the procyclic stage trypanosome synthesizes a GPI that is structurally homologous to the PARP GPI anchor, i.e. contains acylinositol. No PI-PLC-sensitive GPIs have been detected in the procyclic form. Using a membrane preparation from procyclic trypanosomes which is capable of synthesizing GPI lipids upon the addition of nucleotide sugars we find that intermediate glycolipids are predominantly of the acylinositol type, and the mature ethanolamine-phosphatecontaining precursors are exclusively acylated. We suggest that the differences between the bloodstream and procyclic form GPI biosynthetic intermediates can be accounted for by the developmental regulation of an inositol acylhydrolase, which is active only in the bloodstream form, and a glyceride fatty acid remodeling system, which is only partially functional in the procyclic form.