An expert workshop reviewed the health effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and came to the following conclusions. Consumption of fish may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). People at risk for CHD are therefore advised to eat fish once a week. The n-3 PUFA in fish are probably the active agents. People who do not eat fish should consider obtaining 200 mg of very long chain n-3 PUFA daily from other sources. Marine n-3 PUFA somewhat alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. There is incomplete but growing evidence that consumption of the plant n-3 PUFA, alpha-linolenic acid, reduces the risk of CHD. An intake of 2 g/d or 1% of energy of alpha-linolenic acid appears prudent. The ratio of total n-3 over n-6 PUFA (linoleic acid) is not useful for characterising foods or diets because plant and marine n-3 PUFA show different effects, and because a decrease in n-6 PUFA intake does not produce the same effects as an increase in n-3 PUFA intake. Separate recommendations for alpha-linolenic acid, marine n-3 PUFA and linoleic acid are preferred. Sponsorship: Supported by a grant from Unilever Research.