Chromatin and metabolic states both influence lifespan, but how they interact in lifespan regulation is largely unknown. The COMPASS chromatin complex, which trimethylates lysine 4 on histone H3 (H3K4me3), regulates lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans. However, the mechanism by which H3K4me3 modifiers affect longevity, and whether this mechanism involves metabolic changes, remain unclear. Here we show that a deficiency in H3K4me3 methyltransferase, which extends lifespan, promotes fat accumulation in worms with a specific enrichment of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). This fat metabolism switch in H3K4me3 methyltransferase-deficient worms is mediated at least in part by the downregulation of germline targets, including S6 kinase, and by the activation of an intestinal transcriptional network that upregulates delta-9 fatty acid desaturases. Notably, the accumulation of MUFAs is necessary for the lifespan extension of H3K4me3 methyltransferase-deficient worms, and dietary MUFAs are sufficient to extend lifespan. Given the conservation of lipid metabolism, dietary or endogenous MUFAs could extend lifespan and healthspan in other species, including mammals.