Unusual fatty acids that have useful industrial properties occur widely in the seed oils of many non-agronomic plant species. Researchers are attempting to use biotechnology to produce high levels of these fatty acids in the seeds of existing crop plants. cDNAs for a wide variety of unusual fatty acid biosynthetic enzymes have been identified, particularly through the use of expressed sequence tags. However, it has not yet been possible to use these cDNAs to produce large amounts of unusual fatty acids in seeds of transgenic plants. This difficulty points to the need for a greater understanding of fatty acid metabolism in oilseeds.