Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) and phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP) activities were measured in sera from 32 normolipidemic women and men consuming diets enriched in lauric, palmitic, or oleic acids. Serum CETP activity, measured as the rate of radiolabeled cholesteryl esters transferred from HDL toward serum apo B-containing lipoproteins, was higher with the palmitic acid diet (25.1+/-2.5%) than with the lauric acid (23.7+/-2.4%) and the oleic acid (24.0+/-2.7%) diets (P = 0.0028 and 0.0283, respectively). CETP mass concentrations, as measured with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay were increased after the lauric acid diet (2.57+/-0.63 mg/l) and the palmitic acid diet (2.49+/-0.64 mg/l) as compared with the oleic acid diet (2.34+/-0.45 mg/l) (P = 0.0035 and 0.0249, respectively). In contrast with CETP, serum PLTP activity, as measured as the rate of radiolabeled phosphatidylcholine transferred from liposomes toward serum HDL, was significantly higher with the lauric acid diet (23.5+/2.6%) than with the palmitic acid diet (22.5+/-2.5%) (P = 0.0013), while no significant differences were noted when comparing the saturated diets versus the oleic acid diet (23.0+/-2.3%). No significant alterations in the mean apparent diameter of LDL, and in the relative proportions of individual HDL subpopulations were observed from one dietary period to another. Nevertheless, lipid transfer activities correlated significantly with the relative abundance of HDL2b, HDL2a, HDL3b, and HDL3c, with opposite tendencies being observed for cholesteryl ester transfer and phospholipid transfer activities. In general, serum CETP activity correlated negatively with HDL cholesterol, but positively with triglyceride concentrations after the dietary interventions, and the relations with serum lipids were just the opposite for PLTP activity. In addition, CETP and PLTP activities correlated negatively when subjects consumed the standardized diets (P < 0.05 in all cases), but not when subjects consumed their habitual diet. It is concluded that serum lipid transfer activities in normolipidemic subjects can be significantly affected by the fatty acid content of the diet, with differential effects on CETP and PLTP activities.