Sprague–Dawley rats were fed for 4 months on a control diet or a polyunsaturated-fatty-acid (PUFA)-deficient diet. The combined effects of iron overload (Fe dextran) or Fe deficiency (desferrioxamine) on carrageenan-induced granuloma were studied. PUFA deficiency induced changes in Fe metabolism, but no alterations in lipid peroxidation variables were observed. Inflammation implied an increase in lipid peroxidation, Fe storage and caeruloplasmin concentration, together with symptoms of anaemia. PUFA deficiency in inflamed rats gave rise to a lower inflammatory response (granuloma weight and prostaglandin E2 concentration) and ethane exhalation. Fe overload potentiated inflammatory and lipid peroxidation processes, whereas Fe deficiency decreased them.