Monitoring lipid distribution and metabolism in cells and biological fluids poses many challenges because of the many molecular species and metabolic pathways that exist. This study describes the synthesis and study of molecules that contain an alkyne functional group as surrogates for natural lipids in cultured cells. Thus, hexadec-15-ynoic and hexadec-7-ynoic acids were readily incorporated into RAW 264.7 cells, principally as phosphocholine esters; the alkyne was used as a "tag" that could be transformed to a stable dicobalt-hexacarbonyl complex; and the complex could then be detected by HPLC/MS or HPLC/UV(349nm). The 349 nm absorbance of the cobalt complexes was used to provide qualitative and quantitative information about the distribution and cellular concentrations of the alkyne lipids. The alkyne group could also be used as an affinity tag for the lipids by a catch-and-release strategy on phosphine-coated silica beads. Lipid extracts were enriched in the tagged lipids in this way, making the approach of potential utility to study lipid transformations in cell culture. Both terminal alkynes and internal alkynes were used in this affinity "pull-down" strategy. This method facilitates measuring lipid species that might otherwise fall below limits of detection.