1. Increased concentrations of maternal corticosterone are deposited into egg yolk under stress conditions. This experiment investigated the effect of maternal corticosterone on yolk and yolk sac fatty acid profiles of eggs and developing broiler embryos. 2. At 42 weeks of age, 200 broiler breeder females were randomly divided into two groups: maternal corticosterone (MC): 2 mg/hen/d of corticosterone dissolved in 1 mL of 99% ethanol and mixed in the individual daily feed for a 14 d period, and control: 1 mL of ethanol added to the individual daily feed. Hens were inseminated, and eggs were collected daily from d 3 of corticosterone feeding to d 14 and incubated. Fatty acid profiles of egg yolk and yolk sac were analysed before incubation and at 12, 14, 18 and 21 d of incubation. 3. Yolk corticosterone concentrations were greater in MC eggs. Before incubation, eggs from MC had lower DHA (22 : 6 n-3) but higher stearic (18 : 0) and dihomo-gamma linolenic (20 : 3 n-6 Cis 8,11,14) acid content compared with the control. 4. Higher concentrations of stearic (18 : 0), elaidic (18 : 1 tr n-9), eicosenoic (20 : 1 n-9), eicosadienoic (20 : 2 n-6), dihomo-gamma linoleic (20 : 3 n-6) and arachidonic (20 : 4 n-6) acids and lower concentrations of myristic (14 : 0), palmitoleic (16 : 1 n-7), linoleic (18 : 2 n-6) and DHA (22 : 6 n-3) were found at different periods of incubation in the residual yolk sac of MC than from controls. 5. The results suggest that the preferentially selective absorption of fatty acids is related to specific tissue requirements.