The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of stearic acid-, oleic acid- and linoleic acid-rich meals on postprandial haemostasis in young healthy volunteers whose background diets had been controlled for 14 d in a residential study. Six healthy male volunteers were assigned randomly to consume diets rich in stearic acid, oleic acid or linoleic acid for 14 d. On day 15, plasma lipids and haematological variables were measured in the fasted state, and 3 and 7 h (factor VII and prothrombin activation peptide fragments, 1 and 2 only) after consumption of a test meal. Test meals provided 40 % of the subjects' daily energy requirement, with 41 % of the energy provided as fat, 17 % energy as protein and 42 % energy as carbohydrate. The mean fat content of the meal was 45 (SD 5) g. Significant alterations from fasted values were observed for activated factor VII (P<0·05 after 7 h), factor VII antigen (P<0·05 after 7 h), prothrombin activation peptide fragments 1 and 2 (P<0·05 after 7 h) and plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 activity (P<0·01 after 3 h) after consumption of each of the three meals. No significant differences were observed in haemostatic values (factor VII coagulant activity, factor VII antigen, tissue plasminogen activator activity prothrombin activation peptide fragment and plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1) with regard to diet except for activated factor VII at 3 h; values were higher after the oleic acid- and linoleic acid-rich meals than after the stearic acid-rich meal (P<0·05). After consumption of each of the three meals, chylomicrons contained proportionately more palmitic acid than the lipids ingested. The present study shows that there are demonstrable changes in postprandial haemostasis when young healthy volunteers with controlled dietary backgrounds are challenged with a physiological fat load. These changes are independent of the fatty acid composition of the test meals.