Obese patients typically show a pattern of dyslipidaemia and changes in plasma fatty acid composition reflecting abnormalities in lipoprotein metabolism and dietary habits. Animals and obese adults have been widely studied; however, contradictory results have been published in children. The objective was to assess changes in plasma fatty acid composition in total plasma lipids and plasma lipid fractions in obese prepubertal children compared with those of normal weight and to evaluate changes in postprandial plasma fatty acids during a 3 h period after intake of a standardised breakfast. The study was a case–control study with thirty-four obese and twenty normal-weight prepubertal children (Tanner 1). Anthropometric and metabolic variables and fatty acid concentrations were measured in plasma and its fractions. Liquid chromatography was used to separate lipid fractions and GLC to quantify fatty acids. Plasma total fatty acids (TFA), SFA, MUFA and PUFA concentrations were higher in obese than in control children. Except for 18 : 0, 18 : 3n-3, 20 : 4n-6 and n-3 PUFA, all fatty acids in TAG were also elevated in the obese group. Fatty acids 16 : 1n-7, 18 : 0, 18 : 1n-9, 20 : 2n-6, TFA and MUFA significantly decreased between the 2nd and 3rd hour in normal-weight v. obese children. The concentration of 16 : 1n-7 was positively and the proportion of 20 : 4n-6 inversely associated with a significant increase in risk of obesity. Obese prepubertal children show an altered plasma fatty acid profile and concentrations, mainly related to the TAG fatty acid profile, with a lower clearance of fatty acids v. normal-weight prepubertal children.