Changes in diet over the past century have markedly altered the consumption of fatty acids. The dramatic increase in the ingestion of saturated and n-6 fatty acids and concomitant decrease in n-3 fatty acids are thought to be a major driver of the increase in the incidence of inflammatory diseases such as asthma, allergy, and atherosclerosis. The central objective of the Center for Botanical Lipids at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the Brigham and Women's Hospital is to delineate the mechanisms by which fatty acid-based dietary supplements inhibit inflammation leading to chronic human diseases such as cardiovascular disease and asthma. The key question that this center addresses is whether botanical n-6 and n-3 fatty acids directly block recognized biochemical pathways or the expression of critical genes that lead to asthma and atherosclerosis. Dietary supplementation with flaxseed oil, borage oil, and echium oil affects the biochemistry of fatty acid metabolism and thus the balance of proinflammatory mediators and atherogenic lipids. Supplementation studies have begun to identify key molecular and genetic mechanisms that regulate the production of lipid mediators involved in inflammatory and hyperlipidemic diseases. Echium oil and other oils containing stearidonic acid as well as botanical oil combinations (such as echium and borage oils) hold great promise for modulating inflammatory diseases.