We investigated lipid content and fatty acid (FA) composition of gastrointestinal tract contents in free-living, herbivorous European hares (Lepus europaeus). Mean crude fat content in hare stomachs and total gastrointestinal (GI) tracts was higher than expected for typical herbivore forages and peaked in late fall when hares massively deposited body fat reserves. Changes of FA proportions in different parts of the GI-tract indicated a highly preferential absorption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). A further reduction of PUFA content in the caecum, along with the appearance of odd-chained FAs in caecum, caecotrophes, and colon content, pointed to a biohydrogenation of PUFA in the hare"s hindgut. GI-tract contents showed significant seasonal changes in their FA composition. Among PUFA, α-linolenic acid peaked in spring while linoleic acid was predominant in late summer and fall, which probably reflected changes in the plant composition of forage. However, independent of seasonal changes, GI-tracts of lactating females showed a significantly (+33%) higher content of linoleic acid, a FA that is known to increase reproductive performance in European hares. This finding suggests that lactating females actively selected dietary plants rich in linoleic acid, a PUFA that may represent a limited resource for European hares.