The aim of the study was to investigate how the dietary sterol composition, including cholesterol, phytosterol:cholesterol ratio and phytosterols, affect the absorption, biliary excretion, retention, tissue storage and distribution of cholesterol and individual phytosterols in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.). A feeding trial was conducted at two different temperatures (6 and 12°C), using nine different diets with varying contents of phytosterols, cholesterol and phytosterol:cholesterol ratio. Cholesterol retention values were clearly dependent on dietary cholesterol, and showed that fish fed cholesterol levels <1000 mg/kg feed produced considerable quantities of cholesterol de novo. Despite this production, cholesterol content increased with increasing dietary cholesterol in liver, plasma, bile, muscle, adipose tissue and whole fish at 12°C, and in plasma, bile and whole fish at 6°C. The tissue sterol composition generally depended on the dietary cholesterol content and on the dietary phytosterol:cholesterol ratio, but not on the dietary phytosterol content in itself. Campesterol and brassicasterol appeared to be the phytosterols with the highest intestinal absorption in Atlantic salmon. There was a high biliary excretion of campesterol, but not of brassicasterol, which accumulated in tissues and particularly in adipose tissue, with 2-fold-higher retention at 12°C compared with 6°C. Campesterol had the second highest retention of the phytosterols in the fish, but with no difference between the two temperatures. Other phytosterols had very low retention. Although brassicasterol retention decreased with increasing dietary phytosterols, campesterol retention decreased with increasing dietary cholesterol, indicating differences in the uptake mechanisms for these two sterols.