BACKGROUND: Although the effects of resistant starch (RS) on postprandial glycemia and insulinemia have been extensively studied, little is known about the impact of RS on fat metabolism. This study examines the relationship between the RS content of a meal and postprandial/post-absorbative fat oxidation. RESULTS: 12 subjects consumed meals containing 0%, 2.7%, 5.4%, and 10.7% RS (as a percentage of total carbohydrate). Blood samples were taken and analyzed for glucose, insulin, triacylglycerol (TAG) and free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations. Respiratory quotient was measured hourly. The 0%, 5.4%, and 10.7% meals contained 50 muCi [1-14C]-triolein with breath samples collected hourly following the meal, and gluteal fat biopsies obtained at 0 and 24 h. RS, regardless of dose, had no effect on fasting or postprandial insulin, glucose, FFA or TAG concentration, nor on meal fat storage. However, data from indirect calorimetry and oxidation of [1-14C]-triolein to 14CO2 showed that addition of 5.4% RS to the diet significantly increased fat oxidation. In fact, postprandial oxidation of [1-14C]-triolein was 23% greater with the 5.4% RS meal than the 0% meal (p = 0.0062). CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that replacement of 5.4% of total dietary carbohydrate with RS significantly increased post-prandial lipid oxidation and therefore could decrease fat accumulation in the long-term.