Postprandial triacylglycerol (TAG) metabolism is an important metabolic state that has been associated with cardiovascular disease. The magnitude of the postprandial TAG response is determined by dietary fat composition, which alters intestinal and hepatic TAG-rich lipoprotein (TRL) metabolism. Caco-2 cell monolayers are morphologically and physiologically similar to the human intestinal enterocytes, hence they are a good model to study intestinal lipoprotein metabolism. To date only the acute effect of fatty acid composition on intestinal TRL metabolism in Caco-2 cells has been investigated. Little is known of the effect of habitual, or chronic, dietary fat composition on intestinal TRL metabolism. Using the Caco-2 cell model, the present study investigated the acute-on-chronic effect of fatty acid composition on TRL metabolism. Caco-2 cells were grown in the presence of 0·05 mM-PALMITIC ACID (PA; 16 : 0), -OLEIC ACID (OA; 18 : 1N-9),-EICOSAPENTAENOIC ACID (EPA; 20 : 5N-3) OR NO FATTY ACID (CONTROL) FOR 19 D, THEN ONE OF FOUR ACUTE TREATMENTS (CONTROL (BOVINE SERUM ALBUMIN (BSA; 5 G/L)) OR BSA (5 G/L) PLUS 0·5 Mm-PA, -OA or -EPA) were administered for 22 h. Significant acute×chronic interactions for the effect of fatty acid composition on cellular TAG:secreted de novo TAG, and cellular de novo TAG:de novo phospholipid were observed. Thus the effect of a fatty acid was determined by the duration of exposure to the fatty acid intervention. Acute PA treatment increased de novo TAG synthesis, but chronic PA supplementation did not. Acute and chronic OA treatments increased de novo TAG secretion. For EPA, chronic supplementation had the greatest effect on TAG synthesis and secretion. The acute-on-chronic effects of fatty acids on apolipoprotein B metabolism were relatively minor compared with the changes noted for TRL lipid composition. The present study shows that the Caco-2 cell model is valuable for studying intestinal TRL metabolism and that fatty acids modulate this process, the nature of which can be determined by the length of exposure of the cell to the fatty acid.