The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of diets rich in n-6 and n-3 fatty acids on adipose tissue metabolism. Starting at weaning, male Wistar rats were fed ad libitum, for 8 weeks with one of the following diets: C, rat chow; S, rat chow containing 15 % (w/w) soyabean oil; F, rat chow containing 15 % (w/w) fish oil; SF, rat chow containing 15 % (w/w) soyabean and fish oil (5:1, w/w). Casein was added to the fat diets to achieve the same 20 % (w/w) protein content as in the control chow. Food intake and body weight were measured weekly. The rats were killed by decapitation and the retroperitoneal (RET) and epididymal (EPI) white adipose tissues were removed and weighed. Tissue lipid and protein content, in vivo lipogenesis rate, uptake of diet-derived lipids, in vitro lipolytic rate, adipocyte area, lipoprotein lipase, ATP citrate lyase, and malic enzyme activities were evaluated. Carcass lipid and protein contents were also measured. Energy intake was reduced while carcass lipid content was increased in the three fat-fed groups. However, carcass protein and body weight gains were elevated only with diets F and SF. Lipolysis rate was diminished by diets F and SF, while the uptake of diet-derived lipids was elevated by the diet S in both RET and EPI tissues. These metabolic alterations may have contributed to the increase in in vivo lipogenesis rate in the presence of decreased ATP citrate lyase and malic enzyme activities induced by the three lipid diets. These results indicate that enrichment of the diet with polyunsaturated fatty acids causes changes in adipose tissue metabolism that favour fat deposition. Different metabolic pathways were preferentially affected by each type of fatty acid used.