The effect of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) on natural killer (NK) cell activity of human lymphocytes was examined. The addition of an emulsion of trieicosapentaenoyl-glycerol (EPA-TG) emulsified with purified phosphatidylcholine from krill to a cytotoxicity assay system resulted in a marked depression of NK activity. The inhibition was proportional to the concentration of EPA-TG emulsion, and was observed as early as the first one hour of incubation at various effector to target cell ratios. Pretreatment of effector cells with EPA-TG emulsion resulted in significant suppression of their NK activity. Inhibition of cytotoxicity was not due to direct toxicity to effector cells or decreased target cell binding. These results indicate that EPA is a potent inhibitor of NK activity in vitro.