Abstract Atlantic salmon was used to investigate the effect of long- and short-term dietary ration on the tissue expression levels of leptins. Compared to ad libitum fed fish (0.8–3kg), 6months of dietary restriction (60%) resulted in significantly lower body mass and adiposity, but did not produce a clear effect on the expression levels of either lepa1 or lepa2. For visceral adipose tissue, however, the long-term data indicated that season appeared to influence the levels of lepa1 expression of ad libitum fed fish, but not feed-restricted fish. By comparing the total levels of leptin mRNA expression to the tissue lipid contents, we found that only white muscle lepa1 showed the positive relation reported in mammals. The existence of a postprandial leptin response in Atlantic salmon parr was determined in fed and unfed parr over a 24h period. In contrast to other animals, lepa1 peaked in the unfed fish, initially in the white muscle at 6h, and subsequently in belly flap, liver and visceral adipose tissue at 9h. Only lepa2 in the visceral adipose tissue of fed fish showed a similar 9h peak, but at an order of magnitude lower than lepa1 in the unfed fish. These data reveal that short-term feed restriction causes a latent (6–9h) upregulation of lepa-type genes in the fatty tissues of Atlantic salmon, a finding that contrasts the mammalian response.