The UK Food Standards Agency convened a group of expert scientists to review current research investigating whether n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) from plant oils (α-linolenic acid; ALA) were as beneficial to cardiovascular health as the n-3 PUFA from the marine oils, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The workshop also aimed to establish priorities for future research. Dietary intake of ALA has been associated with a beneficial effect on CHD; however, the results from studies investigating the effects of ALA supplementation on CHD risk factors have proved equivocal. The studies presented as part of the present workshop suggested little, if any, benefit of ALA, relative to linoleic acid, on risk factors for cardiovascular disease; the effects observed with fish-oil supplementation were not replicated by ALA supplementation. There is a need, therefore, to first prove the efficacy of ALA supplementation on cardiovascular disease, before further investigating effects on cardiovascular risk factors. The workshop considered that a beneficial effect of ALA on the secondary prevention of CHD still needed to be established, and there was no reason to look further at existing CHD risk factors in relation to ALA supplementation. The workshop also highlighted the possibility of feeding livestock ALA-rich oils to provide a means of increasing the dietary intake in human consumers of EPA and DHA.