In order to investigate the effect of fat-rich diets on neutrophil functions, 21 day-aged rats were fed for 6 weeks with a control diet consisting of a regular laboratory rodent chow (4 per cent final fat content), a control diet supplied with soybean oil (15 per cent final fat content), or a control diet supplied with coconut oil (15 per cent final fat content). Glycogen-elicited peritoneal neutrophils from rats fed soybean and coconut oil-enriched diets presented a reduction in spontaneous and PMA-stimulated H2O2 generation relative to neutrophils from rats fed the control diet. The activity of superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase did not change in animals fed fat-rich diets. In addition, the capacity to generate O2-, spontaneously or in response to PMA, did not change in neutrophils from animals fed fat-rich diets. Values attained matched those observed in animals fed the control diet, regardless of the method used to measure O2-, the superoxide dismutase-inhibitable reduction of cytochrome c or the lucigenin-dependent chemiluminescence. However, the initial rate of O2- generation both in resting neutrophils and in PMA-stimulated cells was significantly reduced when animals were fed with coconut or soybean oil-enriched diets due, at least in part, to a reduction in the activity of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. The concentration of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, an index of lipid peroxidation, was increased in animals fed both fat-rich diets. This was accompanied by an increase in arachidonic acid content in these cells. Results presented suggest that lipid peroxidation in neutrophils from animals fed fat-rich diets may be associated with a consumption of H2O2 yielding more reactive oxygen-derived species such as the hydroxyl radical.