Fish oil has been recently proposed as a possible effective treatment in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); however, a lot of annoying side effects (ie, belching, halitosis, diarrhea, etc) affect patient compliance. We carried out a study of patient tolerance in a group of Crohn's disease (CD) patients with a new fish oil derivative consisting of 500-mg capsules of eicosapentaenoic-docosahexaenoic (EPA 40%-DHA 20%), a free fatty acid mixture (Purepa), and we also evaluated its incorporation into phospholipids, both in plasma and in red cell membranes. Five groups of 10 CD patients in remission received nine Purepa capsules daily in four different preparations (A: uncoated, B: coated, pH 5.5; C: coated, pH 5.5, 60 min time release; D: coated, pH 6.9) and 12 x 1-g capsules daily of a triglyceride preparation (Max-EPA, EPA 18%-DHA 10%), respectively. We coated three of the four Purepa preparations in order to delay the release of contents in an attempt to minimize the side effects. After six weeks of treatment, the group taking Purepa capsules, coated, pH 5.5, 60 min time release (group C) showed the best incorporation of EPA and DHA in red blood cell phospholipid membranes (EPA from 0.2 to 4.4%, DHA from 3.7 to 6.3%), and no side effects were registered, whereas in all other groups side effects were experienced in 50% or more of subjects. This new preparation will make it possible to treat patients for long periods.