Potential impact of omega-3 fatty acids, as contained in fish oil, on immunological function has been suggested because observations of reduced inflammatory diseases in Greenland Inuit were published. A fish oil-based lipid emulsion has recently been approved for parenteral nutrition in many countries. We investigated the influence of a short infusion course of fish oil-based (omega-3) vs conventional (omega-6) lipid emulsion on monocyte function. In a randomized design, twelve healthy volunteers received omega-3 or omega-6 lipid infusion for 48 h, with cross-over repetition of the infusion course after 3 mo. Fatty acid profiles, monocyte cytokine release and adhesive monocyte-endothelium interaction were investigated. Resultant omega-6 lipid emulsion increased plasma-free fatty acids including arachidonic acid, whereas the omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid ratio in monocyte membranes remained largely unchanged. It also caused a tendency toward enhanced monocyte proinflammatory cytokine release and adhesive monocyte-endothelium interaction. In contrast, omega-3 lipid emulsion significantly increased the omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid ratio in the plasma-free fatty acid fraction and in monocyte membrane lipid pool, markedly suppressing monocyte generation of TNF-alpha, IL-1, IL-6, and IL-8 in response to endotoxin. In addition, it also significantly inhibited both monocyte-endothelium adhesion and transendothelial monocyte migration, although monocyte surface expression of relevant adhesive molecules (CD11b, CD18, CD49 days, CCR2) was unchanged. Although isocaloric, omega-3 and omega-6 lipid emulsions exert differential impact on immunological processes in humans. In addition to its nutritional value, fish oil-based omega-3 lipid emulsion significantly suppresses monocyte proinflammatory cytokine generation and features of monocyte recruitment.