Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in beef, lamb, and dairy products that exist as positional and stereo-isomers of octadecadienoate (18:2). Over the past two decades numerous health benefits have been attributed to CLA in experimental animal models including actions to reduce carcinogenesis, atherosclerosis, onset of diabetes, and body fat mass. The accumulation of CLA isomers and several elongated/desaturated and β-oxidation metabolites have been found in tissues of animals fed diets with CLA. Molecular mechanisms of action appear to include modulation of eicosanoid formation as well as regulation of the expression of genes coding for enzymes known to modulate macronutrient metabolism. This review focuses on health benefits, metabolism, and potential mechanisms of action of CLA and postulates the implications regarding dietary CLA for human health.