Sensing of dietary triacylglycerol in the proximal small intestine results in physiological, hormonal and behavioural responses. However, the exact physiological pathways linking intestinal fat sensing to food intake and the activation of brain circuits remain to be identified. In this study we examined the role of triacylglycerol digestion for intestinal fat sensing, and compared the effects of the triacylglycerol digestion products, fatty acids and 2-monoacylglycerol, on behavioural, hormonal and dopaminergic responses in behaving mice. Using an operant task in which mice are trained to self-administer lipid emulsions directly into the stomach, we show that inhibiting triacylglycerol digestion disrupts normal behaviour of self-administration in mice, indicating that fat sensing is conditional to digestion. When administered separately, both digestion products, 2-monoacylglycerol and fatty acids, were sensed by the mice, and self-administration patterns of fatty acids were affected by the fatty acid chain length. Peripheral plasma concentrations of the gut hormones GLP-1, GIP, PYY, CCK and insulin did not offer an explanation of the differing behavioural effects produced by 2-monoacylglycerol and fatty acids. However, combined with behavioural responses, striatal dopamine effluxes induced by gut infusions of oleic acid were significantly greater than those produced by equivalent infusions of 2-oleoylglycerol. Our data demonstrate recruitment of different signalling pathways by fatty acids and 2-monoacylglycerol, and suggest that the structural properties of fat rather than total caloric value determine intestinal sensing and the assignment of reward value to lipids.