In a long-term growth trial, transgenic tilapia Oreochromis niloticus L. showed a 2·5-fold increase in growth compared with non-transgenic siblings. At 7 months, mean mass of transgenic tilapia was 653 g compared with 260 g for non-transgenic siblings. A significant increase (P >0·01) in head: total length ratio, viscera-somatic index and hepato-somatic index was observed in transgenic fish. Female gonado-somatic index (I G) was found to be lower in transgenics than non-transgenic siblings in both mixed and separate culture conditions. Transgenic male I G values were found to be higher in mixed culture and lower in separate culture than that of their non-transgenic siblings. Food conversion efficiency was more than 20% greater in the transgenic fish. In a second shorter-term growth performance trial, the transgenic fish grew to about four times the size of their non-transgenic siblings. A digestibility trial suggested that transgenic tilapia were more efficient utilizers of protein, dry matter and energy. Apparent digestibility of protein and apparent energy digestibility were higher in the transgenic fish.