Gestation is longer in Faroese than Danish women, possibly because of the high intake of marine long-chain n-3 fatty acids that down regulates formation of prostaglandins from arachidonic acid. Polyunsaturated fatty acids were quantified in erythrocytes obtained within 2 days of delivery from randomly selected groups of 62 Faroese and 37 Danish women with an assessable gestational age. Average ratio of long-chain n-3 fatty acids to arachidonic acid [(3/6) ratio] was 0.73 (SD = 0.11) in Faroese women and 0.61 (SD = 0.12) in Danish women (p less than 0.0001), corresponding to the higher intake of marine n-3 fatty acids in the Faroes. A 20% increase in the (3/6) ratio was associated with an increase in pregnancy duration of 5.7 days in Danish women (95% confidence interval, 1.4 to 10.1 days; p = 0.02) and 0.7 days in Faroese women (95% confidence interval, -2.0 to 3.3; p = 0.6). The hypothesized exposure-effect relationship may be weaker or absent at the higher level of exposure seen in the Faroese group.