Dietary conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) decreases yolk 18:1(n-9), induces chick embryonic mortality and alters egg quality. A study was conducted to determine whether olive oil would prevent these adverse effects of CLA. Hens (15 per treatment) were fed diets containing 0.5 g corn oil/100 g (CO), 0.5 g CLA/100 g (CLA), 0.5 g corn oil plus 10 g olive oil/100 g (CO + OO) or 0.5 g CLA plus 10 g olive oil/100 g (CLA + OO). After 74 d of feeding, hens were placed on CO for 10 d. Hens were artificially inseminated weekly. For hatchability studies, fertile eggs were collected daily, stored at 15 degrees C for 24 h and then incubated. After 6 d of feeding, embryonic mortality rates were 15, 100, 8 and 16% in the CO, CLA, CO + OO and CLA + OO groups, respectively. When CLA-fed hens were fed the CO diet, hatchability improved to that of the CO group within 7 d. For fatty acid analysis, three eggs were obtained at the 7 d of feeding. Relative CLA levels of yolk from CO-, CLA-, CO + OO- and CLA + OO-fed hens were 0.11 +/- 0.01, 1.91 +/- 0.16, 0.08 +/- 0.04 and 0.69 +/- 0.07 g/100 g fatty acids, respectively. The ratios of 16:0/16:1(n-7) and 18:0/18:1(n-9) of yolk from CLA-fed hens were approximately 1- and approximately 1.5-fold greater, respectively, compared with those fed CO. OO prevented CLA-induced increases in 16:0 and 18:0 and the decrease in 18:1(n-9) in yolk. Fertile eggs were stored at 4 degrees C for 2 or 10 wk and analyzed for pH or mineral levels. Dietary CLA caused abnormal pH changes of albumen and yolk when eggs were stored at 4 degrees C. The pH of yolk and albumen from CO-fed hens after 10 wk of storage was 6.12 +/- 0.12 and 9.06 +/- 0.03, respectively, versus 7.89 +/- 0.25 and 8.32 +/- 0.16, respectively, in eggs from CLA-fed hens. OO prevented CLA-induced abnormal changes in the pH of albumen and yolks. Eggs from CLA-fed hens had greater iron, calcium and zinc concentrations and lower magnesium, sodium and chloride concentrations in albumen relative to those from hens fed CO. OO prevented CLA-induced mineral exchange between yolk and albumen, presumably by reducing the yolk saturated fatty acids, which are believed to disrupt the vitelline membrane during cold storage. This study suggests that the adverse effects of CLA may be due to the increased level of saturated fatty acids. However, because the addition of olive oil also lowered egg CLA content, the direct role of egg CLA on egg hatchability and quality cannot be ruled out.