To explore whether the metabolic responses to trans, compared with cis, fatty acids depend on the source of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), male Sprague-Dawley rats, 5 weeks old, were fed on diets containing 30 g oleic (cis) or elaidic (trans) acids/kg in combination with either 70 g perilla oil (α-linolenic acid) or safflowerseed oil (linoleic acid)/kg for 3 weeks in separate experiments. The dietary fats were adjusted to have the same level of total PUFA. The dietary manipulation did not influence the growth indices, but spleen weight was greater when the dietary PUFA source was perilla oil. The incorporation of trans fatty acid into liver phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol and phosphatidylserine and adipose tissue lipids, particularly phospholipids, was significantly higher when rats were fed on safflowerseed oil compared with perilla oil. However, only limited differences were observed in the effects of cis and trans fatty acids on the proportions of PUFA in liver phospholipids. Splenic production of prostaglandin E2 was reduced by trans fatty acid when safflowerseed oil was the PUFA source, but no trans effect was observed on leukotriene C4 production. Dietary PUFA significantly influenced the concentration of plasma immunoglobulins (Ig) but the effect of geometry was only seen in IgG which was increased by trans acid. Dietary trans fatty acid increased the CD4+: CD8+ T-lymphocyte ratio in the spleen, reflecting a decreasing trend of the proportion of CD8+, when combined with perilla oil. These observations indicate that the type of PUFA simultaneously ingested specifically infiuences the effect that trans acid exerts on PUFA metabolism, eicosanoid production and some immune indices.