The effects of diet composition and ration size on the activities of key enzymes involved in intermediary metabolism were studied in the liver of gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata). High-carbohydrate, low-protein diets stimulated 6-phosphofructo 1-kinase (EC 184.108.40.206), pyruvate kinase (EC 220.127.116.11), glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (EC 18.104.22.168) and 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (EC 22.214.171.124) enzyme activities, while they decreased alanine aminotransferase (EC 126.96.36.199) activity. A high degree of correlation was found between food ration size and the activity of the enzymes 6-phosphofructo 1-kinase, pyruvate kinase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (positive correlations) and fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase (EC 188.8.131.52) (negative correlation). These correlations matched well with the high correlation also found between ration size and growth rate in starved fish refed for 22 d. Limited feeding (5 g/kg body weight) for 22 d decreased the activities of the key enzymes for glycolysis and lipogenesis, and alanine aminotransferase activity. The findings presented here indicate a high level of metabolic adaptation to both diet type and ration size. In particular, adaptation of enzyme activities to the consumption of a diet with a high carbohydrate level suggests that a carnivorous fish like Sparus aurata can tolerate partial replacement of protein by carbohydrate in the commercial diets supplied in culture. The relationship between enzyme activities, ration size and fish growth indicates that the enzymes quickly respond to dietary manipulations of cultured fish.