To compare the flavor components of shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei cultured in sea water and low salinity water, the chemical composition of muscle was analyzed, muscle extracts prepared, and their sensory components and sensory properties were assessed. Shrimp cultured in sea water had a higher content of crude protein, lower moisture, and a higher flesh pH compared to the low salinity samples (P < 0.05), whereas no significant differences were found in crude lipid and ash. The free amino acid composition of muscle extracts and the amino acid composition of peptides from shrimp cultured in sea water and low salinity water were similar, that is, the former had a very high content of glycine, arginine, proline and alanine, and the latter a very high content of glutamate, glycine, arginine, proline and alanine. The major components of nucleotides were adenosine monophosphate and inosine monophosphate, and the major components of organic acids were acetic acid and malic acid. Extracts from shrimp cultured in sea water had enhanced umami, sweetness and overall flavor, and less of an earthy-musty taste compared to samples cultured in low salinity water (P < 0.05). Aftertaste did not differ between the two shrimp extracts (P > 0.05).