Trans fatty acids are found mainly in processed foods. It has been shown that when their intake is high, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triacylglycerols are elevated, while HDL-cholesterol decreases. To evaluate a possible effect of these compounds, even in low amounts, C57Bl/6J mice were fed for 7 weeks a diet containing 13·6 % energy as partially hydrogenated rapeseed oil-enriched diet (Trans diet). The Trans diet contained 3 % energy as trans 18 : 1 fatty acid (elaidic acid). Control mice were on an isologous diet containing native rapeseed oil (Rapeseed diet) in which trans fatty acids were undetectable. Total, free and HDL-cholesterol as well as reverse cholesterol transport did not change. However, plasma triacylglycerol and VLDL levels increased. Hepatic gene expression in the Trans v. Rapeseed diet were compared using quantitative RT–PCR. The Trans diet produced a 2–3-fold elevation in mRNA of fatty acid synthase and microsomal transfer protein mRNA, explaining (at least in part) the observed increase in triacylglycerols and VLDL. In addition, mice on the Trans diet developed a deficiency in plasma vitamin E accompanied by a higher concentration of F2-isoprostanes, indicative of increased oxidative stress. The 78 kDa glucose-related protein (GRP78) mRNA expression increased 3–4-fold in liver, suggesting that a response against apoptosis was provoked by lipid peroxidation.