The composition of the metazoan parasite fauna of the rock cod Eleginops maclovinus from three locations in southern Chile was compared to assess the local spatial variation of the community component of their parasitic faunas. A total of 13 108 metazoan parasites (5267 endoparasites and 7841 ectoparasites) belonging to 34 taxa were collected from 268 specimens of E. maclovinus between October 2008 and March 2009. The populations and community quantitative descriptors were estimated. Altogether, 97·4% of the fish were infected with at least one parasite taxon. The most prevalent species were Hypoechinorhynchus magellanicus (Acanthocephala), Caligus rogercresseyi, Lepeophtheirus mugiloides, Clavella adunca (Copepoda) and Similascarophis sp. (Nematoda). Five species are new records for this host: Argulus araucanus, Hirudinea gen. sp1., Hirudinea gen. sp2., Benedenia sp. and Camallanidae gen. sp. A linear discriminant analysis (LDA) showed that the metazoan parasite fauna of E. maclovinus varied qualitatively and quantitatively among three locations, with 89·7% of fish being correctly assigned to their respective locations. This suggested that parasites could be a reliable tool to discriminate individual fish from geographically close locations. There was a weak relationship between the parasite fauna and fish size and there were no accumulations of parasites in the host over time, which could be associated with ontogenetic changes of diet associated with habitat use.