Response to dietary fat manipulation is highly heterogeneous, yet generic population-based recommendations aimed at reducing the burden of CVD are given. The APOE epsilon genotype has been proposed to be an important determinant of this response. The present study reports on the dietary strategy employed in the SATgenɛ (SATurated fat and gene APOE) study, to assess the impact of altered fat content and composition on the blood lipid profile according to the APOE genotype. A flexible dietary exchange model was developed to implement three isoenergetic diets: a low-fat (LF) diet (target composition: 24 % of energy (%E) as fat, 8 %E SFA and 59 %E carbohydrate), a high-saturated fat (HSF) diet (38 %E fat, 18 %E SFA and 45 %E carbohydrate) and a HSF-DHA diet (HSF diet with 3 g DHA/d). Free-living participants (n 88; n 44 E3/E3 and n 44 E3/E4) followed the diets in a sequential design for 8 weeks, each using commercially available spreads, oils and snacks with specific fatty acid profiles. Dietary compositional targets were broadly met with significantly higher total fat (42·8 %E and 41·0 %E v. 25·1 %E, P ≤ 0·0011) and SFA (19·3 %E and 18·6 %E v. 8·33 %E, P ≤ 0·0011) intakes during the HSF and HSF-DHA diets compared with the LF diet, in addition to significantly higher DHA intake during the HSF-DHA diet (P ≤ 0·0011). Plasma phospholipid fatty acid analysis revealed a 2-fold increase in the proportion of DHA after consumption of the HSF-DHA diet for 8 weeks, which was independent of the APOE genotype. In summary, the dietary strategy was successfully implemented in a free-living population resulting in well-tolerated diets which broadly met the dietary targets set.