Due to its traditionally good availability, digestibility and high content of n − 3 HUFA, fish oil is the main lipid source in fish feeds. However, world demand for this product has grown significantly in recent years, whereas its production, based on fisheries landings, is static. The purpose of the present study was to assess the effect of partial replacement of fish oil in compound diets for gilthead seabream and seabass, by several vegetable oil sources, on growth, dietary fatty acid utilization and flesh quality. Five iso-energetic and isoproteic experimental diets were formulated (25% lipid content). Fish oil was the only added lipid source in the control (FO) diet, and it was included in the other experimental diets at a level high enough (40% of FO diet) to keep the n − 3 HUFA levels well over 3% in order to cover the essential fatty acid requirements of these species. Fish oil was replaced by soyabean oil (SO), rapeseed oil (RO) and linseed oil (LO) or a mixture (Mix) of them. Feed intake in all dietary groups was in the range of results obtained for commercial diets in both species, and growth and feed utilization were very good. The results show that, providing a minimum content of essential fatty acids in the diet, it is possible to replace up to 60% of the fish oil by SO, LO and RO or a mixture of them in diets for seabream and seabass, without compromising fish growth. Fatty acid composition of liver and muscle reflected that of the diet, but utilization of dietary lipids differed between these two tissues and was also different for the different fatty acids. Despite reduction in dietary saturated fatty acids by the inclusion of vegetable oils, their levels in fish liver were as high as in fish fed the fish oil diet, whereas, in muscle, levels were reduced according to that in the diet. Linoleic and linolenic acids were accumulated in the liver proportionally to their levels in the diet, suggesting a lower oxidation of these fatty acids in comparison to other 18C fatty acids. Regarding eicosapentaenoic acid (20 : 5n − 3; EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (22 : 6n − 3; DHA) and arachidonic acid (20 : 4n − 6; ARA), these essential fatty acids were reduced in the liver at a similar rate, whereas DHA was preferentially retained in the muscle in comparison with the other fatty acids, denoting a higher oxidation particularly of EPA, in the muscle. Some other PUFA increased despite their low dietary levels in seabream fed LO diets and in seabass fed SO diet, suggesting the stimulation of delta-6 and delta-5 desaturase activity in marine fish. Despite differences in fatty acid composition, fillet of fish fed vegetable oils was very well accepted by trained judges when assessed cooked.