The association of plasma phospholipid (PL) fatty acid composition with plasma homocysteine (Hcy) in Chinese vegetarians is not understood. The main aim of the present study was to investigate the plasma PL fatty acid status, and its association with plasma Hcy in Chinese vegetarians and omnivores. A total of 103 male vegetarians and 128 male omnivores were recruited in Linyin Temple, Hangzhou. Plasma Hcy and PL fatty acid concentrations were determined by standard methods. Compared with omnivores, plasma PL n-3 PUFA (P< 0·001), 22 : 6n-3 (P< 0·001), 22 : 5n-6 (P= 0·021), 22 : 2n-6 (P< 0·001) and SFA (P= 0·017) were significantly lower, while plasma PL n-6 PUFA (P= 0·007) and total PUFA (P< 0·001) were significantly higher in vegetarians. The prevalence of hyperhomocysteinaemia (HHcy) in vegetarians (26·47 %) was significantly higher than that in omnivores (13·28 %). In vegetarians, plasma PL 22 : 6n-3 (r − 0·257, P= 0·046) was significantly negatively associated with plasma Hcy. In omnivores, plasma PL 18 : 1n-7 (r 0·237, P= 0·030) was significantly positively associated with plasma Hcy. Plasma PL 22 : 6n-3 (r − 0·217, P= 0·048) was negatively associated with plasma Hcy in omnivores. Plasma PL SFA were positively associated with the prevalence of HHcy. It would seem appropriate for vegetarians to increase their dietary n-3 PUFA and decrease dietary SFA, and thus reduce the risk of HHcy.