The pancreas secretes several different lipases. The most abundant is pancreatic triglyceride lipase (PTL). The pancreas also synthesizes two homologues of PTL, the pancreatic lipase-related proteins 1 and 2 (PLRP1 and PLRP2). Cytotoxic T-lymphocytes also express PLRP2 under certain conditions. We sought to determine the role of PLRP2 in fat absorption and in T-cell cytotoxicity by creating a PLRP2-deficient mouse. Adult PLRP2-deficient mice had normal fat absorption. In contrast, suckling PLRP2-deficient mice had fat malabsorption evidenced by increased fecal weight, increased fecal fats, and the presence of undigested and partially digested dietary triglycerides in the feces. As a result, the PLRP2-deficient pups had a decreased rate of weight gain. To assess T cell cytotoxicity, we immunized PLRP2-deficient mice with a mastocytoma cell line, P815, and determined the ability of splenocytes from the immunized mice to kill P815 cells in a 51Cr release assay. PLRP2- deficient cells had deficient killing activity in this assay, and PLRP2- deficient splenocytes released fewer fatty acid from the target cells than did control cells. Our results provide the first evidence of a physiological function for PLRP2. PLRP2 participates in T cell cytotoxicity, and PLRP2 performs a crucial role in the digestion of dietary fats in suckling animals.