Obesity is associated with elevated levels of inflammation and metabolic abnormalities which are linked to CVD. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether long-chain n-3 PUFA (LCn-3PUFA), combined with a very-low-energy diet (VLED), facilitated weight loss and weight maintenance, and improvements in blood lipids and inflammatory mediators. This was a double-blind, randomised, controlled trial with two parallel groups. For 14 weeks, one group consumed 6 × 1 g capsules/d of monounsaturated oil (placebo group, PB), and the other group consumed 6 × 1 g capsules/d of LCn-3PUFA (fish oil group, FO), each comprising 70 mg EPA and 270 mg DHA. Both groups were on VLED for 4 weeks (n 14 PB, n 18 FO), which was then followed by 10 weeks of weight maintenance (n 12 PB, n 17 FO). Fasting blood samples, anthropometric measurements and 3 d food diaries were collected at baseline, at 4 and 14 weeks. A greater-than-2-fold increase occurred in plasma levels of EPA and DHA in the FO group (P < 0·001). At 4 weeks, the mean weight loss was − 6·54 (sd 2·08) kg ( − 6·9 %) for PB and − 6·87 (sd 1·83) kg ( − 7·7 %) for FO. At week 14, after the maintenance phase, there was a further mean decrease in weight, − 1·57 (sd 3·7) kg (1·85 %) for PB and − 1·69 (sd 2·32) kg ( − 1·9 %) for FO. Both groups experienced improved metabolic profiles and there was a significant reduction in fat mass for the FO group at week 14 but not for PB. However, it would appear that supplementation with LCn-3PUFA had no significant effect on weight loss or weight maintenance over the 14 weeks.