Dietary l-carnitine (LC) is a nutritional factor that reduces liver lipid content. However, whether dietary LC can improve lipid metabolism via simultaneous activation of mitochondrial fatty acid (FA) β-oxidation and suppression of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is still unknown. Large yellow croaker were fed with a high-fat diet (HFD) supplemented with dietary LC at 0, 1·2 or 2·4 ‰ for 10 weeks. The results indicated that a HFD supplemented with LC reduced the liver total lipid and TAG content and improved serum lipid profiles. LC supplementation administered to this fish increased the liver antioxidant capacity by decreasing serum and liver malondialdehyde levels and enhancing the liver antioxidant capacity, which then relieved the liver damage. Dietary LC increased the ATP dynamic process and mitochondrial number, decreased mitochondrial DNA damage and enhanced the protein expression of mitochondrial β-oxidation, biogenesis and mitophagy. Furthermore, dietary LC supplementation increased the expression of genes and proteins related to peroxisomal β-oxidation and biogenesis. Interestingly, feeding fish with LC-enriched diets decreased the protein levels indicative of ER stress, such as glucose-regulated protein 78, p-eukaryotic translational initiation factor 2a and activating transcription factor 6. Dietary LC supplementation downregulated mRNA expression relative to FA synthesis, reduced liver lipid and relieved liver damage through regulating β-oxidation and biogenesis of mitochondria and peroxisomes, as well as the ER stress pathway in fish fed with HFD. The present study provides the first evidence that dietary LC can improve lipid metabolism via simultaneously promoting FA β-oxidation capability and suppressing the ER stress pathway in fish.