The aim of this study was to determine the fatty acid composition and trans fatty acid and fatty acid contents of breast milk in Turkish women and to find the effect of breastfeeding mothers' diet on trans fatty acid and fatty acid composition. Mature milk samples obtained from 50 Turkish nursing women were analyzed. Total milk lipids extracts were transmethylated and analyzed by using gas liquid chromatography to determine fatty acids contents. A questionnaire was applied to observe eating habits and 3 days dietary records from mothers were obtained. Daily dietary intake of total energy and nutrients were estimated by using nutrient database. The mean total trans fatty acids contents was 2.13 +/- A 1.03%. The major sources of trans fatty acids in mothers' diets were margarines-butter (37.0%), bakery products and confectionery (29.6%). Mothers who had high level of trans isomers in their milk consumed significantly higher amounts of these products. Saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids of human milk constituted 40.7 +/- A 4.7%, 26.9 +/- A 4.2% and 30.8 +/- A 0.6% of the total fatty acids, respectively. The levels of fatty acids in human milk may reflect the current diet of the mother as well as the diet consumed early in pregnancy. Margarines, bakery products and confectionery are a major source of trans fatty acids in maternal diet in Turkey.