The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to summarize the evidence from observational studies assessing the association between intake of trans fatty acids (TFA) and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), with a specific emphasis on distinguishing between TFA of industrial and ruminant origin. By searching five bibliographic databases, analyses from six published and two unpublished prospective cohort studies, assessing the association of intake of TFA with fatal and/or non-fatal CHD, were identified. Four and three studies reported separate associations for intake of ruminant or industrial-TFA, respectively. The pooled relative risk estimates for comparison of extreme quintiles of total-TFA intake (corresponding to intake increments ranging from 2.8 to ∼10 g/day) were 1.22 (95% confidence interval: 1.08-1.38; P=0.002) for CHD events and 1.24 (1.07-1.43; P=0.003) for fatal CHD. Ruminant-TFA intake (increments ranging from 0.5 to 1.9 g/day) was not significantly associated with risk of CHD (risk ratio (RR)=0.92 (0.76-1.11); P=0.36), and neither was industrial-TFA intake, although there was a trend towards a positive association (RR=1.21 (0.97-1.50); P=0.09). In conclusion, our analysis suggests that industrial-TFA may be positively related to CHD, whereas ruminant-TFA is not, but the limited number of available studies prohibits any firm conclusions concerning whether the source of TFA is important. The null association of ruminant-TFA with CHD risk may be due to lower intake levels.