Lipid oxidation in foods is initiated by free radical and/or singlet oxygen mechanisms which generate a series of autocatalytic free radical reactions. These autoxidation reactions lead to the breakdown of lipid and to the formation of a wide array of oxidation products. The nature and proportion of these products can vary widely between foods and depend on the composition of the food as well as numerous environmental factors. The toxicological significance of lipid oxidation in foods is complicated by interactions of secondary lipid oxidation products with other food components. These interactions could either form complexes that limit the bioavailability of lipid breakdown products or can lead to the formation of toxic products derived from non-lipid sources. A lack of gross pathological consequences has generally been observed in animals fed oxidized fats. On the other hand, secondary products of lipid autoxidation can be absorbed and may cause an increase in oxidative stress and deleterious changes in lipoprotein and platelet metabolism. The presence of reactive lipid oxidation products in foods needs more systematic research in terms of complexities of food component interactions and the metabolic processing of these compounds.