Long-chain n-3 PUFA from fish and exercise capacity are associated with CVD risk. Fish, especially large and old predatory fish, may contain Hg, which may attenuate the inverse association of long-chain n-3 PUFA with CVD. However, the associations of long-chain n-3 PUFA or Hg exposure with exercise capacity are not well known. We aimed to evaluate the associations of serum long-chain n-3 PUFA EPA, docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and DHA and hair Hg with exercise cardiac power (ECP, a ratio of VO2max:maximal systolic blood pressure (SBP) during an exercise test), a measure for exercise capacity. For this, data from the population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study were analysed cross-sectionally in order to determine the associations between serum long-chain n-3 PUFA, hair Hg and ECP in 1672 men without CVD, aged 42–60 years. After multivariate adjustments, serum total long-chain n-3 PUFA concentration was associated with higher ECP and VO2max (P
trend across quartiles=0·04 and P
trend=0·02, respectively), but not with maximal SBP (P
trend=0·69). Associations were generally similar when EPA, DPA and DHA were evaluated individually. Hair Hg was not associated with ECP, VO2max or maximal SBP. However, the associations of total long-chain n-3 PUFA (P
interaction=0·03) and EPA (P
interaction=0·02) with higher VO2max were stronger among men with lower hair Hg. Higher serum long-chain n-3 PUFA concentration, mainly a marker for fish consumption in this study population, was associated with higher ECP and VO2max in middle-aged men from eastern Finland.