Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a mixture of positional and geometric isomers of octadecadienoic acid [linoleic acid (LA), 18:2n-6] commonly found in beef, lamb and dairy products. The most abundant isomer of CLA in nature is the cis-9, trans-11 (c9t11) isomer. Commercially available CLA is usually a 1:1 mixture of c9t11 and trans-10, cis-12 (t10c12) isomers with other isomers as minor components. Conjugated LA isomer mixture and c9t11 and t10c12 isomers alone have been attributed to provide several health benefits that are largely based on animal and in vitro studies. Conjugated LA has been attributed many beneficial effects in prevention of atherosclerosis, different types of cancer, hypertension and also known to improve immune function. More recent literature with availability of purified c9t11 and t10c12 isomers suggests that t10c12 is the sole isomer involved in antiadipogenic role of CLA. Other studies in animals and cell lines suggest that the two isomers may act similarly or antagonistically to alter cellular function and metabolism, and may also act through different signaling pathways. The effect of CLA and individual isomers shows considerable variation between different strains (BALB/C mice vs. C57BL/6 mice) and species (e.g., rats vs. mice). The dramatic effects seen in animal studies have not been reflected in some clinical studies. This review comprehensively discusses the recent studies on the effects of CLA and individual isomers on body composition, cardiovascular disease, bone health, insulin resistance, mediators of inflammatory response and different types of cancer, obtained from both in vitro and animal studies. This review also discusses the latest available information from clinical studies in these areas of research.