The influence of genotype (lean v. fatty) and dietary protein level (normal v. reduced) on plasma metabolites, hepatic fatty acid composition and mRNA levels of lipid-sensitive factors is reported for the first time, using the pig as an experimental model. The experiment was conducted on forty entire male pigs (twenty lean pigs of Large White×Landrace×Pietrain cross-breed and twenty fatty pigs of Alentejana purebreed) from 60 to 93 kg of live weight. Each pig genotype was divided into two subgroups, which were fed the following diets: a normal protein diet (NPD) equilibrated for lysine (17·5 % crude protein and 0·7 % lysine) and a reduced protein diet (RPD) not equilibrated for lysine (13·1 % crude protein and 0·4 % lysine). The majority of plasma metabolites were affected by genotype, with lean pigs having higher contents of lipids, whereas fatty pigs presented higher insulin, leptin and urea levels. RPD increased plasma TAG, free fatty acids and VLDL-cholesterol compared with NPD. Hepatic total lipids were higher in fatty pigs than in the lean genotype. RPD affected hepatic fatty acid composition but had a slight influence on gene expression levels in the liver. Sterol regulatory element-binding factor 1 was down-regulated by RPD, and fatty acid desaturase 1 (FADS1) and fatty acid binding protein 4 (FABP4) were affected by the interaction between genotype and diet. In pigs fed RPD, FADS1 was up-regulated in the lean genotype, whereas FABP4 increased in the fatty genotype. Although there is a genotype-specific effect of dietary protein restriction on hepatic lipid metabolism, lipogenesis is not promoted in the liver of lean or fatty pigs.