Piracanjuba (Brycon orbignyanus) is a Brazilian migratory fast-growing omnivore, very appreciated as a sport fish, which is threatened to extinction in Southern Brazil due to stock over exploitation and dam building. Therefore, efforts have been made to raise this fish in captivity for reintroduction and aquaculture purposes. In the present study, the effects of different dietary protein and lipid concentrations on piracanjuba fingerlings growth performance, feed utilization, body composition, hepatosomatic index (HSI) and activity of the lipogenic enzymes fatty acid synthetase (FAS), glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) and malic enzyme (ME) were investigated using a 2 × 3 factorial experiment. Six casein–gelatin based diets were prepared combining two protein (30% and 32%) and three lipid concentrations (5.5%, 8.8% and 12.1%). Eleven fish, average weight 11.30 ± 0.1 g, were held in each of 18100–l aquaria, supplied with recirculating freshwater. Each diet was randomly assigned to triplicate groups of fish and fed to apparent satiation, twice a day for 100 d. Piracanjuba fingerlings' daily weight gain (0.36–0.40 g), specific growth rate (1.43–1.51%), feed utilization and HSI were not influenced by dietary protein or lipid concentration. However, body composition was directly affected by dietary treatment. An increase in body fat and dry matter was observed as dietary lipid increased, for both dietary protein concentrations tested. The activity of FAS was depressed by increasing dietary fat levels but the G6PD activity did not differ among dietary treatments, although ME activity showed some regulation by dietary protein. These results indicate that an increase from 5.5% to 12.1% in the dietary lipid, at a dietary protein concentration of 30% or 32%, promotes body fat accumulation in piracanjuba fingerlings with no improvement in growth, suggesting that the lipid requirement for this species should be 5% or less, when raised for commercial purposes. However, the additional energy reserve from body fat accumulation could be desirable for piracanjuba fingerlings produced for stock enhancement.