Conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) are conjugated isomers of linoleic acid, which may promote health with regard to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, bone formation, growth modulation and immunity. The c9,t11 isomer of CLA, rumenic acid (RA), is the major isomer present in the diet. However, dietary intakes of CLA and RA by humans have not been examined rigorously, nor has the relationship between dietary CLA or RA and health (e.g., body composition). Three-day dietary records (DR) were collected from adult men (n = 46) and women (n = 47) and analyzed using a nutrient database modified to contain total CLA and RA. Simultaneously, 3-d food duplicates (FD) were collected to determine analytically individual fatty acid intakes, including those of total CLA and RA. Chronic total CLA and RA intakes were estimated using a semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Body composition was estimated using body mass index and percentage of body fat. Total CLA intake was estimated from FD to be 212 +/- 14 and 151 +/- 14 mg/d (mean +/- SEM) for men and women, respectively; RA intake was estimated to be 193 +/- 13 and 140 +/- 14 mg/d for men and women, respectively. In general, CLA and RA intakes estimated by DR and FFQ were significantly lower than those estimated by FD. Body composition was not significantly related to dietary total CLA or RA intake. In conclusion, results suggest that DR and FFQ methodologies are not reliable estimators of individual total CLA and RA intakes and may underestimate total CLA and RA intakes of groups. Intake of total CLA and RA was found to be significantly lower than that suggested previously by others.