Many African diets are low in fat but are currently changing because of nutrition transition. We studied fat and fatty acid (FA) intake and the essential fatty acid (EFA) status of adolescent girls (aged 14–19 years, n 262) in Zambezia Province, central Mozambique. A cross-sectional study was carried out in a city as well as in the towns and rural villages of a coastal and an inland district. Dietary intake and FA sources were studied in a 24 h dietary recall. FA compositions of cholesteryl esters and phospholipids of non-fasting serum samples were analysed by GLC. Fat intake was low (13–18 % of energy) in all areas. Coconut and palm oil were the main sources of fat, and soyabean oil and maize were the main sources of PUFA. Compared to Food and Agriculture Organization/WHO 2010 recommendations, intake of linoleic acid (LA, 18 : 2n-6) was inadequate in the coastal district, and intakes of n-3 PUFA were inadequate in all areas. FA compositions of serum lipids differed between areas. The proportions of LA tended to be highest in the city and lowest in the rural areas. The phospholipid mead (20 : 3n-9):arachidonic acid (20 : 4n-6) ratio did not indicate EFA insufficiency. LA proportions in phospholipids were low, but those of long-chain n-6 and n-3 PUFA were high in comparison with Western adolescents. To conclude, fat sources, FA intake and EFA status differed between adolescent girls living in different types of communities. Fat intake was low, but EFA insufficiency was not indicated.