Trans fatty acids (TFA) are supposed to be related to a variety of physiological effects. Numerous studies in this field are gathered and compared, which mainly deal with the influences on lipoprotein levels in plasma and their effects with regard to coronary heart diseases. Furthermore, the analytical accessibility of trans fatty acids by different methods is presented. Thus, the most reliable method for an exact quantitation of trans fatty acids in edible fats is the combination of Ag-TLC with GC. The contents of TFA, in particular trans-octadecenoic acids, in bovine and human milk fat, in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats and oils as well as in processed food from different countries, determined in numerous studies, are summarized. Especially results on the isomeric distribution of positional isomers of trans-octadecenoic acid may be of future interest, since negative metabolic activities might only originate from certain isomers. Finally, intake rates of TFA in several countries are presented. It can be concluded that there still is need for further nutritional studies and that the discussion about TFA should not neglect the comparison with the saturated fatty acids C12, C14 and C16.