The objective of this investigation was to compare, at several levels of intake, the capacity of diverse cold-pressed plant oils to support development of acquired immune competence assessed in vivo in the weanling mouse. Safflower, maize, soyabean, rapeseed, flaxseed and olive oils were selected to represent widely differing 18: 1n-9, 18: 2n-6 and 18: 3n-3 contents, and each oil was fed at three dietary levels (40, 80 and 160 g/kg) as the exclusive source of fat. C57BL/6J mice, ten males and ten females, had free access to each diet for 28 d beginning at 19 d of age. The primary serum haemagglutinin response to sheep red blood cells and the primary cutaneous delayed hypersensitivity response to dinitrochlorobenzene were used to assess humoral and cell-mediated competence respectively, on day 28. A zero-time control group, assessed immunologically at 19 d of age, was also included (n 32). Independently of dietary oil level, flaxseed, rapeseed, olive and soyabean oils supported development of a more vigorous antibody response than safflower (a useful point of reference, being rich in 18: 2n-6 but low in 18: 1n-9 and 18: 3n-3), whereas only flaxseed oil supported development of cell-mediated responsiveness exceeding that of safflower-fed mice. Independently of oil type, development of both immunological indices correlated negatively with intake of 18: 2n-6, and development of humoral competence varied inversely with dietary oil level. A low content of 18: 2n-6, perhaps less than 20 g/100 g fatty acids, appears important to the capacity of a plant oil to support development of acquired immune competence in the young.