The sterol composition of two ascomycetous fungi, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Gibberella fujikuroi, was examined by chromatographic (TLC, GLC, and HPLC) and spectral (MS and 1H-NMR) methods. Of notable importance was that both fungi produced cholesterol and a homologous series of long chain fatty alcohols (C22 to C30). In addition to ergosterol two novel sterols, ergosta-5,7,9(11),22-tetraenol and ergosterol endoperoxide, were isolated as minor compounds in growth-arrested cultures of yeast and in mycelia of G. fujikuroi. 24-Ethylidenelanosterol was also detected in mycelia of G. fujikuroi. A shift in sterol biosynthesis was observed by treatment with 24(RS), 25-epiminolanosterol (an inhibitor of the S-adenosylmethionine C-24 transferase) and by monitoring the sterol composition at various stages of development. The results are interpreted to imply that the genes for 24-desalkyl, e.g., cholesterol, and 24-alkyl sterols, e.g., 24β- methyl cholesterol and 24-ethyl cholesterol, are distributed (but not always expressed) generally throughout the fungi but the occurrence of one or another compounds is influenced by the fitness (structure and amount) for specific sterols to act functionally during fungal ontogeny; sterol fitness is coordinated with Darwinian selection pressures.