Animal studies consistently show that dietary conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) reduces mammary tumorigenesis including metastasis. Relatively low concentrations of CLA are required for those effects, and a threshold level exists above which there is no added reduction. We reasoned that the concentration of CLA required to effectively alter mammary tumor metastasis may be dependent on the type of dietary fat because select fatty acids can enhance or suppress normal or malignant cell growth and metastasis. For this study, the diets (a total of 12 different groups) differed in fatty acid composition but not in energy from fat (40%). In experiments involving spontaneous metastasis, mice were fed for 11 wk; in experiments in which mice were injected i.v. with tumor cells, they were fed for 7 wk. Mice were then assessed for the effect of CLA concentration on mammary tumorigenesis. Mammary tumor growth was not altered, but metastasis was significantly decreased when beef tallow (BT) replaced half of a defined vegetable fat blend (VFB). That blend reflects the typical fat content of a Western diet. In addition, that same VFB:BT diet lowered the concentration of CLA required to significantly decrease mammary tumor metastasis from 0.1% of the diet to 0.05%. A diet in which corn oil replaced half of the VFB did not lower the threshold from 0.1 to 0.05%. In vitro, the main fatty acid in vegetable oil, linoleic acid, reduced the efficacy of CLA toxicity on mammary tumor cells in culture. Alternatively, fatty acids normally found in BT, such as oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids, either did not change or enhanced the cytolytic effects of CLA isomers on mouse mammary tumor cells in culture. These data provide evidence that dietary BT, itself with negligible levels of CLA, may increase the efficacy of dietary CLA in reducing mammary tumorigenesis.