The authors assessed the association between serum phospholipid fatty acids as biomarkers of fatty acid intake and breast cancer risk among women in the E3N Study (1989-2002), the French component of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. During an average of 7 years of follow-up, 363 cases of incident invasive breast cancer were documented among 19,934 women who, at baseline (1995-1998), had completed a diet history questionnaire and provided serum samples. Controls were randomly matched to cases by age, menopausal status at blood collection, fasting status at blood collection, date, and collection center. Serum phospholipid fatty acid composition was assessed by gas chromatography. Adjusted odds ratios for risk of breast cancer with increasing levels of fatty acids were calculated using conditional logistic regression. An increased risk of breast cancer was associated with increasing levels of the trans-monounsaturated fatty acids palmitoleic acid and elaidic acid (highest quintile vs. lowest: odds ratio = 1.75, 95% confidence interval: 1.08, 2.83; p-trend = 0.018). cis-Monounsaturated fatty acids were unrelated to breast cancer risk. A high serum level of trans-monounsaturated fatty acids, presumably reflecting a high intake of industrially processed foods, is probably one factor contributing to increased risk of invasive breast cancer in women.