Medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) deficiency is the most frequently described metabolic disorder of fatty acid oxidation in humans. Acute episodes are usually characterized biochemically by the appearance of nonketotic dicarboxylic aciduria. In addition, other abnormal metabolites, such as suberylglycine, n-hexanoylglycine, 3-phenylpropionylglycine, and octanoylcarnitine, are excreted in the urine. Urinary organic acids were determined using dual capillary column gas-liquid chromatography and gas-liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. In three cases of MCAD deficiency we observed a disproportionate increase in the excretion of unsaturated dicarboxylic acids compared to either fasting control children with expected ketotic dicarboxylic aciduria or patients with nonketotic dicarboxylic aciduria not associated with MCAD deficiency. The most significant increase was in the urinary excretion of cis-4-decendioic acid. Additionally, the urinary excretions of cis-3-octenedioic and cis-5-decenedioic acids were slightly decreased whereas the excretion of cis-5-dodecenedioic acid was increased. These data are consistent with the notion that as a result of MCAD deficiency the metabolic oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleate and oleate is inhibited more than saturated fatty acids.