An 8-week feeding experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of dl-methionine (Met) supplementation in a low-fishmeal diet on growth, key gene expressions of amino acid transporters and target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway in juvenile cobia, Rachycentron canadum. Seven isonitrogenous and isolipidic diets were formulated, containing 0·72, 0·90, 1·00, 1·24, 1·41, 1·63 and 1·86 % Met. Weight gain and specific growth rates increased gradually with Met levels of up to 1·24 % and then decreased gradually. In dorsal muscle, mRNA levels of ASCT2 in the 1·00 % Met group were significantly up-regulated compared with 0·72, 1·63, and 1·86 %. The insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) mRNA levels in the dorsal muscle of fish fed 1·00 and 1·24 % Met were higher than those in fish fed other Met levels. In addition, fish fed 1·24 % Met showed the highest mRNA levels of TOR and phosphorylation of TOR on Ser2448. The phosphorylation of ribosomal p70-S6 kinase (S6K) on Ser371 in the dorsal muscle of fish fed 1·86 % Met was higher than those in the 0·72 % group. In conclusion, straight broken-line analysis of weight gain rate against dietary Met level indicates that the optimal Met requirement for juvenile cobia is 1·24 % (of DM, or 2·71 % dietary protein). Met supplementation in a low-fishmeal diet increased cobia growth via a mechanism that can partly be attributed to Met’s ability to affect the TOR/S6K signalling pathway by enhancing ASCT2 and IGF-I transcription in cobia dorsal muscle.