The purpose of the present study was to measure the effect of dietary fat source on the fatty acid composition of immune cells in chickens. One-day-old female chicks were fed corn and soybean meal-based diets containing 7% of either lard, corn oil, canola oil, linseed oil (LO), or menhaden fish oil (FO). After being fed experimental diets for 3 to 4 wk, samples of serum, thymus glands, bursa of Fabricius glands, and splenocytes were collected. All samples were frozen and stored at -80 C until lipid analysis. Results indicate that the fatty acid composition of the sera and immune tissues of chickens reflected the fat in the diet. The relative content of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids varied considerably among immune tissues, with, from greatest to least, spleen, bursa, and thymus. The young chick demonstrated a substantial capacity to elongate and desaturate linoleic (C18:2n-6) and alpha-linolenic acids (C18:3n-3). Feeding chicks fats rich in n-3 fatty acids (e.g., LO or FO) decreased significantly (P less than .05) the level of arachidonic acid (C20:4n-6) present in the serum and immune tissues by 50 to 75%. The levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C20:6n-3) were substantially increased (P less than .05) by FO and LO feeding. However, LO, which is rich in C18:3n-3, was generally only one-half to one-quarter as effective as FO in elevating EPA and DHA levels in immune tissues. The implications for these changes in serum and immune tissue fatty acid profiles are discussed briefly.