Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a mixture of positional and geometric isomers of linoleic acid, which is found preferentially in dairy products and meat. Preliminary studies indicate that CLA is a powerful anticarcinogen in the rat mammary tumor model with an effective range of 0.1-1% in the diet. This protective effect of CLA is noted even when exposure is limited to the time of weaning to carcinogen administration. The timing of this treatment corresponds to maturation of the mammary gland to the adult stage, suggesting that CLA may have a direct effect in reducing the cancer risk of the target organ. Of the vast number of naturally occurring substances that have been demonstrated to have anticarcinogenic activity in experimental models, all but a handful of them are of plant origin. Conjugated linoleic acid is unique because it is present in food from animal sources, and its anticancer efficacy is expressed at concentrations close to human consumption levels.