The effects of fat source on lipogenesis and lipid traits of longissimus muscle, liver and perirenal adipose tissue, were studied in 48 New Zealand White rabbits, slaughtered at 11 or 15 weeks of age. Rabbits were offered diets with 20 g added fat per kg, containing either medium-chain (COC: coconut oil), saturated and monounsaturated (PAL: palm oil) or polyunsaturated (SUN: sunflower oil) fatty acids as major components. Diets did not affect growth performance, dressing proportion and tissue weights. Intramuscular lipid content was lower for COC than for SUN and PAL (e.g. 10 v. 13 and 12 glkg, at 11 weeks, respectively, P < 0·05), whereas lipid content was unaffected by diet in liver and perirenal fat. In muscle, the fat source did not influence the activities of acetyl-CoA-carboxylase (CBX), malic enzyme (ME) and glucose-6-phosphodehydrogenase (G6PDH). In liver, activities ofGSPDH and ME were depressed from the SUN diet, as compared with the COC or PAL diets. The diet-induced variations in enzyme activities in perirenal fat were lower than in the liver and were not significant. Medium-chain fatty acids were found only in tissue lipids of animals given COC. The ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids decreased in the order SUN > PAL > COC in muscle and perirenal fat. Thus, polyunsaturated fatty acids exert an inhibition of G6PDH and ME activities specifically in liver. Compared with COC, the addition of SUN to the basal diet increased total lipids and polyunsaturated fatty acids contents in the longissimus lumborum muscle, which might improve the organoleptic and dietetic qualities of rabbit meat.