The current concern for fat intake in western countries has raised the question of the individual fatty acid (FA) impact on health. This important issue has strengthened the awareness of nutritionists and food manufacturers for the control of the FA profile of food products. The aim of this review is to provide a classification of the FA profiles of 80 vegetable oil sources, according to their nutritional potential. The first part of the review focuses on lipoprotein metabolism, and on the impact of each dietary FA on blood lipid composition (LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and circulating triacylglycerols). In the second part of the review, the oil sources are clustered by similar FA profiles, and the classification is discussed with regard to the individual FA action on blood lipid composition. Apart from the major vegetable seeds, the clustering high-lighted some interesting nutritional oil sources containing mainly α-linolenic acid (camelina, linseed, perilla and stock oils), or interesting amounts of the two essential FA (purslane, chia, raspberry seed, sea buckthorn seed and salicorn oils). Furthermore, this classification provides a useful tool for the formulation of the FA profile of food products. © 2007 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.