The effects of lauric acid (C12:0) on plasma lipids and lipoproteins were compared with the effects of palmitic acid (C16:0) and oleic acid (C18:1) in a metabolic-diet study of 14 men by using liquid-formula diets fed for 3 wk each in random order. Lauric acid was supplied in a synthetic high-lauric oil, palmitic acid was provided by palm oil and oleic acid in oleic-rich sunflower seed oil. The high-lauric oil resulted in higher concentrations of plasma total cholesterol (4.94 +/- 0.75 mmol/L [mean +/- SE]) and LDL cholesterol (3.70 +/- 0.57 mmol/L) when compared with high-oleic sunflower oil (4.44 +/- 0.54 and 3.31 +/- 0.44 mmol/L, respectively), but did not raise total and LDL cholesterol concentrations as much as did palm oil (5.17 +/- 0.65 and 3.93 +/- 0.51 mmol/L, respectively). No differences were noted in plasma triglycerides or HDL cholesterol. Lauric acid raises total and LDL cholesterol concentrations compared with oleic acid, but is not as potent for increasing cholesterol concentrations as is palmitic acid.