The objective of the present study was to compare the acute effect of meals of different composition on the expression of adhesion molecules that play a key role in leucocyte trafficking. A total of twenty apparently healthy subjects randomly consumed three isoenergetic meals 1 week apart: enriched in carbohydrates (CHO), enriched in monounsaturated fat and enriched in saturated fat. Blood samples were obtained before the meals and at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 h after meal ingestion. Samples were analysed for LDL resistance to Cu-mediated oxidation and for the surface expression on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of CD62L, CD162, CD11a, CD11b, CD49d and CD54 by flow cytometry. The present results showed that there were no changes in LDL susceptibility to oxidation within and among the meals. After the CHO-enriched meal, there was a time-dependent increased expression of CD162, CD49d, CD11a and CD54 on PBMC that returned to basal values after 8–10 h. These changes were significantly greater than the ones observed after the consumption of the monounsaturated fat- and the saturated fat-enriched meals and were more evident in lymphocytes than in monocytes. In conclusion, acute ingestion of a CHO-enriched meal induces higher increases of lymphocyte activation markers than fat-enriched meals. These results suggest that long-term consumption of CHO-enriched diets may be associated with a sustained pro-inflammatory state.