In Western countries the dietary guidance emphasizes the need to decrease the intake of saturated fatty acids and to replace them with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), particularly long chain n-3 PUFA (LC-PUFA). The production of poultry meat having a lower fat content and healthier fatty acid (FA) profile is a hot topic for the poultry industry, and the possibility to identify genotypes able to produce meat with a higher LC-PUFA content deserves attention. The aims of the present study were to evidence in chicken (i) a genotype-related different expression of the desaturating enzymes delta-6 (Δ6, EC 220.127.116.11), delta-5 (Δ5, EC 1.14.19.) and delta-9 (Δ9, EC 18.104.22.168); (ii) the impact of the hypothesized different expression on the meat FA composition; (iii) the distribution of desaturase products in the different lipid classes. Slow (SG), medium (MG) and fast (FG) growing chickens fed the same diet were evaluated either for the relative expression of FADS1, FADS2 and SCD1 genes in liver (by q-PCR), or for the FA composition of breast meat. MG and particularly SG birds showed a greater expression of FADS2 and FADS1 genes, a higher Δ6 and Δ5 activity (estimated using desaturase indices), and consequently a higher LC-PUFA content in the breast meat than FG birds. The relationship between genotype and desaturating ability was demonstrated, with a significant impact on the PUFA content of breast meat. Due to the high consumption rate of avian meat, the identification of the best genotypes for meat production could represent an important goal not only for the food industry, but also for the improvement of human nutrition.