Arachidonic acid (AA), a major long-chain omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, is associated with ischemic heart disease (IHD) and stroke. We assessed bi-directional associations of AA synthesis reflected by plasma phospholipid AA with CVD risk factors, and identified mediators of associations of AA with IHD and stroke using Mendelian randomization (MR). We used two-sample MR to assess bi-directional associations of AA synthesis with lipids, blood pressure, adiposity, and markers of inflammation and coagulation. We used multivariable MR to assess mediators of associations of AA with IHD and stroke. Genetically predicted AA (% of total fatty acids increase) was positively associated with apolipoprotein B (ApoB, 0.022 standard deviations (SD), 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.010, 0.034), high-density (0.030 SD, 95% CI 0.012, 0.049) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, 0.016 SD, 95% CI 0.004, 0.027) and lower triglycerides (-0.031 SD, 95% CI -0.049, -0.012) but not with other traits. Genetically predicted these traits gave no association with AA. The association of AA with IHD was attenuated adjusting for ApoB or LDL-C. Genetically predicted AA was associated with lipids but not other traits. Given ApoB is thought to be the key lipid in IHD, the association of AA with IHD is likely mediated by ApoB.