Dietary conjugated linoleic acid (CLA; 0-2.0%) increased CLA concentrations in liver microsomes and skeletal muscle homogenates from rats. Dietary CLA decreased oleic and arachadonic acid concentrations in both liver microsomes and skeletal muscle. The presence of CLA in liver microsomes had no impact on linoleic acid, arachadonic acid, and alpha-tocopherol oxidation rates. Dietary CLA (2.0%) also did not alter alpha-tocopherol oxidation rates in liver microsomes or muscle homogenates. Formation of malonaldehyde (MDA) in oxidizing liver microsomes decreased with increasing CLA concentration as determined by measurement of thiobarbituric acid-MDA complexes by HPLC. The ability of CLA to decrease MDA formation without impacting other lipid oxidation markers such as the disappearance of fatty acid and alpha-tocopherol suggests that decreased MDA concentration was the result of CLA's ability to lower polyenoic fatty acids such as arachadonic acid. While CLA does not appear to act as an antioxidant, its ability to decrease polyenoic fatty acid concentrations could decrease the formation of highly cytotoxic lipid oxidation products such as MDA.