Gas chromatography (GC) has in recent times become an important tool for the fatty acid profiling of human blood and plasma. An at-line procedure used in the fatty acid profiling of whole/intact aquatic micro-organisms without any sample preparation was adapted for this work. A direct thermal desorption (DTD) interface was used to profile the fatty acid composition of human plasma and whole human blood of eight volunteers in a procedure omitting the usual lipid extraction steps that precede sample methylation in the traditional (off-line) protocols. Trimethylsulfonium hydroxide (TMSH) was used as reagent for thermally assisted methylation. In a fully automated manner, the liner of the GC injector is used as a sample-and-reaction container with the aid of the DTD interface. The fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles obtained using this novel approach, were very identical to those obtained when the traditional off-line protocol was applied. FAME yields obtained in the at-line DTD method were found to be very similar for saturated fatty acids, but significantly higher for polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to off-line yields. As a result of the contribution of circulating cell membranes in blood, substantial differences were observed when the amount of FAMEs obtained in whole human blood and human plasma samples were compared after their analysis. Thanks to the fully automated operation of this novel procedure, large series of analyses can easily be performed. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.