Little is known of the associations of endogenous fatty acids with sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). We investigated the associations of SCA with red blood cell membrane fatty acids that are end products of de novo fatty acid synthesis: myristic acid (14:0), palmitic acid (16:0), palmitoleic acid (16:1 n7), vaccenic acid (18:1 n7), stearic acid (18:0), oleic acid (18:1 n9), and a related fatty acid, cis-7 hexadecenoic acid (16:1 n9). We used data from a population-based case-control study where cases, aged 25 to 74 years, were out-of-hospital SCA patients attended by paramedics in Seattle, WA (n = 265). Controls, matched to cases by age, sex, and calendar year, were randomly identified from the community (n = 415). All participants were free of prior clinically diagnosed heart disease. We observed associations of higher red blood cell membrane levels of 16:0, 16:1n-7, 18:1n-7, and 16:1n-9 with higher risk of SCA. In analyses adjusted for traditional SCA risk factors and trans- and n-3 fatty acids, a 1-SD-higher level of 16:0 was associated with 38% higher risk of SCA (odds ratio, 1.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.12-1.70) and a 1-SD-higher level of 16:1n-9 with 88% higher risk (odds ratio, 1.88; 95% confidence interval, 1.27-2.78). Several fatty acids that are end products of fatty acid synthesis are associated with SCA risk. Further work is needed to investigate if conditions that favor de novo fatty acid synthesis, such as high-carbohydrate/low-fat diets, might also increase the risk of SCA. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.