This 35-d feeding experiment examined in juvenile shrimp Penaeus monodon (3·3 g initial body weight) the effects of methionine (Met), choline and cystine on protein accretion and the activity of two key enzymes of remethylation (betaine–homocysteine methyltransferase; BHMT) and trans-sulfuration (cystathionine β-synthase; CBS). The interaction between Met and choline was tested using semi-purified diets either adequate or limiting (30 or 50 %) in total sulphur amino acid (SAA) content with a constant cystine:Met ratio. The diets contained either basal or excess choline (3 v. 7 g/kg feed). Cystine was added to two other 30 and 50 % Met-limiting diets to adjust the SAA supply to that of the control diet in order to evaluate the interaction between Met and cystine. As expected, N accretion was significantly lower with the SAA-limiting diets but increased back to control levels by the extra choline or cystine, demonstrating their sparing effect on Met utilisation for protein accretion. We show, for the first time, the activities of BHMT and CBS in shrimp hepatopancreas. Only BHMT responded to the SAA deficiencies, whereas the extra choline and cystine did not stimulate remethylation or down-regulate trans-sulfuration. Our data also suggest the capacity of P. monodon to synthesise taurine, being significantly affected by the cystine level in the 30 % SAA-limiting diets. Further research is warranted to better understand the metabolic regulation of taurine synthesis in shrimp and of the observed Met-sparing effects.