Results on changes in the total amino acids (protein bound + free) and the free amino acids (FAA) in relation to development, from egg (unfertilised and/or fertilised) to yolk-sac resorbed larva, before first feeding, in two Percichthyid fish, trout cod, Maccullochella macquariensis and Murray cod. Maccullochella peelii peelii, which lay demersal, adhesive eggs, are presented. Throughout development, the FAA accounted for only a small proportion (0.19% in fertilised eggs of both species) of the total amino acid pool. Nine essential amino acids (EAA) and eight non-essential amino acids (NEAA) were quantified in the amino acid pool at all stages of development. In both species, the total amino acid content decreased during the transformation (at 20 ± 1 °C) from newly hatched larva to yolk-sac resorbed larva. Overall, the changes in the TEAA and TNEAA reflected that of the amino acid pool. In trout cod, all but one EAA (lysine) and two NEAA (cysteine and glycine) decreased with ontogeny, from fertilised egg to yolk-sac resorbed larva. In Murray cod, however, the exceptions to the general decline were two NEAA (aspartic acid and glycine). In contrast, the FAA increased with development, the changes being reflected in both FEAA and FNEAA. Qualitatively, the predominant free amino acids in trout cod and Murray cod eggs were alanine, lysine, leucine and serine. Because the egg protein and the total amino acid contents declined with development, it is concluded that the rate of breakdown of yolk protein was higher than the anabolic and catabolic processes during embryogenesis. Data also suggest that in freshwater fish FAA are an unlikely primary energy substrate during embryogenesis.