The n-3 and n-6 fatty acids are transferred across the placenta with consistently higher 22:6n-3 and lower 18:2n-6 in fetal than maternal plasma. This study sought to determine whether maternal and fetal cord blood red blood cell (RBC) phospholipid fatty acids show similar saturation with 22:6n-3, and also addressed the relationship between 18:2n-6 and Δ6 desaturase product/precursor ratios for 97 mothers and newborns. Despite higher fetal than maternal plasma phospholipid 22:6n-3, the maternal and fetal RBC phospholipid 22:6n-3 showed similar curvilinear relationships to the plasma phospholipid 22:6n-3. Risk of failure to achieve high RBC phospholipid 22:6n-3 increased sharply below a plasma phospholipid 22:6n-3 of 6.5g/100g fatty acids. Higher maternal and fetal 18:2n-6 was associated with lower RBC phospholipid 22:6n-3/22:5n-3, 22:5n-6/22:4n-6 and 18:3n-6/18:2n-6. These findings suggest low placental transfer of 18:2n-6 may be a specific mechanism to prevent inhibition of fetal Δ6 desaturase and facilitate fetal cellular phospholipid 22:6n-3 accretion.