Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) present in dairy and ruminant fat has beneficial effects on metabolic syndrome characteristics in humans and some rodent models. Production practices to increase the milk content of CLA are also substantially elevating trans-11-vaccenic acid (VA). Questions are being raised whether VA has the same beneficial actions as CLA or has adverse biological effects similar to industrially produced trans-fatty acids. The present study examined the effects of dietary supplementation of either 0 or 1·5 % (w/w) VA for 8 weeks on lipidaemia, glycaemia, blood pressure, hepatic steatosis, adipocyte size and molecular markers of inflammation and insulin signalling in fa/fa Zucker rats. Dietary supplementation of VA did not alter feed intake, weight gain, blood pressure or organ:body weight (BW) ratios, except the epididymal fat:BW ratio which was lower in the VA group compared with the control group. The total liver lipid concentration as an indicator of hepatic steatosis was not different between the groups. Likewise, there were no changes in fasting lipidaemia, glycaemia or oral glucose tolerance. Although there were no physiological differences observed between the groups, animals supplemented with VA had smaller adipocytes (approximately 7 % smaller than the controls). The VA group also had higher adipophilin and IL-10 protein levels in epididymal adipose tissue (1·7- and 1·4-fold higher than the controls, respectively); however, there were no changes observed in critical nodes of insulin signalling. The present study provides evidence that supplementation with VA, a naturally produced trans-fat, has some positive effects on adipose tissue and did not exacerbate obesity-mediated metabolic abnormalities.