The fatty acid composition and lipid content of white muscle, liver and mesenteric fat, in reared v. wild sharpsnout sea bream (Diplodus puntazzo) were compared. The mesenteric fat index (100×mesenteric fat weight/body weight) and the lipid contents of both white muscle and liver proved consistently higher in farmed v. wild sharpsnout sea bream (79·0 (SE 13·1) V. 38·7 (se 5·1) g/kg, 188·4 (se 30·0) v. 58·2 (se 3·9) g/kg and 27·2 (se 3·7) v. 17·3 (se 1·9) g/kg, respectively). The higher values of linoleic, eicosapentaenoic, docosahexaenoic and n-3 series acids in reared fish muscle make reared sharpsnout more favourable for human consumption. In reared fish mesenteric fat, polyunsaturated fatty acids reached higher levels (32·54 (se 0·71) g/100 g total fatty acids than those found in wild fish (26·08 (se 1·38) g/100 g total fatty acids or even present in the diet (28·34 g/100 g total fatty acids). Compared with cultured fish, wild sharpsnout displayed a higher content of n-3 fatty acids in liver fat (31·67 (se 1·13) g/100 g total fatty acids), but lower in mesenteric fat (20·35 (se 1·41) g/100 g total fatty acids). Atherogenic index values were similar for wild and reared fish in all tissues, while the index of thrombogenicity of muscle and mesenteric fat (0·353 (se 0·012) and 0·402 (se 0·021) respectively) was significantly increased in wild fish probably due to the omnivorous habits of the species and/or to seasonal food variations. Depending on the time of the year or the season, reared fish could be more suitable for human consumption than wild fish.