Studies were undertaken to assess the biochemical effects of dietary supplementation with n-9 eicosatrienoic acid (ETrA), an arachidonic acid analogue that is normally present in cell membranes at very low levels but is raised in the presence of essential fatty acid deficiency (EFAD). The incorporation of dietary ETrA into rat neutrophils and its effect on A23187-stimulated 5-lipoxygenase metabolism in these cells was examined; in addition, the effect of ETrA was compared with that of another arachidonic acid analogue, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is known to accumulate in cell membranes and inhibit synthesis of leukotriene B4 (LTB4) a product of the 5-lipoxygenase metabolic pathway. Rats were fed a defined diet that was sufficient in essential fatty acids and that contained EPA or ETrA (0.014% of energy) or no added fatty acid, for 3 wk. In the cells from ETrA-fed rats, LTB4 synthesis was inhibited relative to control values, but synthesis of the other products of 5-lipoxygenase metabolism, 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (5-HETE) and the all-trans isomers of LTB4, were not inhibited. This pattern indicates inhibition of LTA hydrolase in ETrA-fed rats. In EPA-fed rats, there was inhibition of LTB4 and the all-trans isomers of LTB4, but there was no inhibition of 5-HETE. This pattern indicates inhibition of LTA synthase in EPA-fed rats. The results establish that dietary ETrA effectively inhibits synthesis of the inflammatory mediator, LTB4, and suggest that ETrA may confer antiinflammatory benefits similar to those observed with EFAD or dietary fish oil (which contains EPA). Because ETrA is substantially less unsaturated than EPA, it can be expected to have greater chemical stability, which could be an important practical advantage when used as a dietary constituent or supplement.