This experiment was designed to investigate the effect of supplementing conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in breeder hens diet on development and hepatic lipid metabolism of chick offspring. Hy-Line Brown breeder hens were allocated into two groups, supplemented with 0 (control (CT)) or 0·5 % CLA for 8 weeks. Offspring chicks were grouped according to the mother generation and fed for 7 d. CLA treatment had no significant influence on development, egg quality and fertility of breeder hens but darkened the egg yolks in shade and increased yolk sac mass compared with the CT group. Addition of CLA resulted in increased body mass and liver mass and decreased deposition of subcutaneous adipose tissue in chick offspring. The serum TAG and total cholesterol levels of chick offspring were decreased in CLA group. CLA treatment increased the incorporation of both CLA isomers (c9t11 and t10c12) in the liver of chick offspring, accompanied by the decreased hepatic TAG levels, related to the significant reduction of fatty acid synthase (FAS) and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) enzyme activities and the increased carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 (CPT1) enzyme activity. Meanwhile, CLA treatment reduced the mRNA expression of genes related to fatty acid biosynthesis (FAS, ACC and sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c) and induced the expression of genes related to β-oxidative (CPT1, AMP-activated protein kinase and PPARα) in chick offspring liver. In summary, the addition of CLA in breeder hens diet significantly increased the incorporation of CLA in the liver of chick offspring, which further regulate hepatic lipid metabolism.