1. The effects of dietary energy level and dietary energy source on protein utilization by plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) were examined by giving diets containing 400 g crude protein/kg to nine groups of fish. Five of these diets contained only lipid as a source of energy (in addition to protein) and their energy contents were varied by increasing the lipid level in a step-wise manner from 56 to 176 g/kg. The remaining four diets contained both lipid and carbohydrate (glucose+dextrin) together as energy sources: two levels of carbohydrate (100 and 200 g/kg) being used at each of two (56 and 86 g/kg) lipid levels
2. Weight gains of plaice given the diets containing only lipid as an energy source did not differ significantly from each other. Weight gains of plaice given diets containing carbohydrate as well as protein and lipid were superior to those given diets lacking carbohydrate
3. Values obtained for protein efficiency ratio (PER) and net protein utilization (NPU) increased with increasing dietary energy level in both those fish given the diets containing carbohydrate and those given diets lacking it. Both PER and NPU values were greater for plaice given diets containing carbohydrate than for fish diets without carbohydrate even when the total energy content of the diets was approximately the same
4. Liver glycogen levels were significantly higher in plaice given diets containing 200 g carbohydrate/kg than in plaice given diets without carbohydrate. Blood glucose levels and hepatic hexokinase (EC 2.7.I.I) levels were not significantly different in plaice given these diets. No glucokinase (EC 2.7.I.2) was detected in plaice given either diet
5. The metabolic fate of glucose carbon in plaice was investigated by injecting the fish intraperitoneally with [U-14C]glucose and examining, 18 h afterwards, the distribution of radioactivity in different biochemical fractions from the fish
6. Glucose was respired much less rapidly in the carnivorous plaice, irrespective of dietary treatment, than in omnivorous mammals (mouse and rat). The rate of production of 14CO2 from [U-14C]glucose by plaice given diets containing carbohydrate was not significantly greater than that by plaice given diets lacking carbohydrate
7. More glucose was incorporated into liver glycogen when plaice were given carbohydrate in their food than when it was absent. Otherwise no differences were apparent in the fate of glucose C by plaice which could be related to the diets used
8. No mortalities occurred nor was any histopathology observed in the plaice as a consequence of the inclusion of carbohydrate in the food.