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Feeding mixed isomers of linoleic acid with conjugated double bonds (CLA) reduces body fat in several species, including pigs. To learn about the mechanism involved, we fed CLA to sexually mature mice at 0, 1 and 2% of the diet for 5, 12 and 14 days. Dietary CLA reduced body fat by nearly 50% but did not reduce body weight. Mice fed CLA also experienced programmed death (apoptosis) of fat cells. This implicates a new mechanism (fat cell death) by which CLA reduces body fat without reducing lean. The effectiveness of feeding CLA for as few as five days may indicate that benefits could be obtained in pigs by feeding CLA for a short duration at the conclusion of the finishing phase.