Abstract Although the conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) have several isomer-specific biological effects including anti-carcinogenic and anti-adipogenic effects, their mechanisms of action remain unclear. To determine their potential effects on membrane structure and function, we studied the incorporation profiles of four CLA isomers ( trans-10 cis-12 (A), trans-9 trans-11 (B), cis-9 trans-11 (C), and cis-9 cis-11 (D)) in CHO and HepG2 cells. All four isomers were incorporated into cellular lipids as efficiently as linoleic acid (LA), with the majority of the incorporated CLA present in membrane rafts. Of the four isomers, only CLA-A increased the cholesterol content of the raft fraction. Over 50% of the incorporated CLAs were recovered in phosphatidylcholine of CHO cells, but in HepG2 the neutral lipids contained the majority of CLA. The desaturation index (18:1/18:0 and 16:1/16:0) was reduced by CLA-A, but increased by CLA-B, the effects being apparent mostly in raft lipids. The Δ 9 desaturase activity was inhibited by CLAs A and C. Unlike LA, which was mostly found in the sn-2 position of phospholipids, most CLAs were also incorporated significantly into the sn-1 position in both cell types. These studies show that the incorporation profiles of CLA isomers differ significantly from that of LA, and this could lead to alterations in membrane function, especially in the raft-associated proteins.