Scope: To analyse the usefulness of isolated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) to rapidly/easily reflect n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) effects on lipid metabolism/inflammation gene profile, and evaluate if these effects are body mass index (BMI) dependent. Methods and results: PBMC from normoweight (NW) and overweight/obese (OW/OB) subjects were incubated with physiological doses of docosahexaenoic (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), or their combination. PBMC reflected increased beta-oxidation-like capacity (CPT1A expression) in OW/OB but only after DHA treatment. However, insensitivity to n-3 LCPUFA was evident in OW/OB for lipogenic genes: both PUFA diminished FASN and SREBP1C expression in NW, but no effect was observed for DHA in PBMC from high-BMI subjects. This insensitivity was also evident for inflammation gene profile: all treatments inhibited key inflammatory genes in NW; nevertheless, no effect was observed in OW/OB after DHA treatment, and EPA effect was impaired. SLC27A2, IL6 and TNFα PBMC expression analysis resulted especially interesting to determine obesity-related n-3 LCPUFA insensitivity. Conclusion: A PBMC-based human in vitro system reflects n-3 LCPUFA effects on lipid metabolism/inflammation which is impaired in OW/OB. These results confirm the utility of PBMC ex vivo systems for bioactive-compound screening to promote functional food development and to establish appropriate dietary strategies for obese population.