The eating pattern is altered by high-fat diet-induced obesity. To clarify whether this is dependent on the fatty acid profile of the diet, the authors conducted two studies on adult female Sprague-Dawley rats fed normal-fat chow or high-fat diets with varying fatty acid composition. Eating pattern and body weight were assessed in rats fed canola-based (low in saturated fatty acids) or lard-based (moderate in saturated fatty acids) diets for 7 days, and in animals fed chow or canola- or butter-based diets (rich in saturated fatty acids) for 43 days. These parameters were also determined when restricted amounts of low-fat canola- or butter-based diets were consumed for 25 days. Early exposure to canola or lard high-fat feeding or prolonged access to canola- or butter-based fat-rich diets (relative to chow feeding) did not alter the normal light-dark distribution of food and energy intake. All animals ingested most of their food during the dark phase. However, feeding the high-fat canola- and butter-based diets produced an altered eating pattern during the light phase characterized by a smaller number of meals, longer intermeal interval, and enhanced satiety ratio, and consumption of shorter-lasting meals than chow-fed animals. Relative to canola or chow feeding, butter-fed animals consumed a lower number of meals during the dark phase and had a higher eating rate in the light phase, but ate larger meals overall. Only butter feeding led to overeating and obesity. When given a restricted amount of low-fat canola- or butter-based diet at the start of the light phase, rats ate most of their food in that phase and diurnal rather than nocturnal feeding occurred with restriction. These findings underscore the role of saturated fatty acids and the resulting eating pattern alteration in the development of obesity.