Five groups of salmon, of initial mean weight 127 +/- 3 g, were fed increasing levels of dietary linseed oil (LO) in a regression design. The control diet contained capelin oil (FO) only, and the same oil was blended with LO to provide the experimental diets. After an initial period of 40 wk, all groups were switched to a finishing diet containing only FO for a further 24 wk. Growth and flesh lipid contents were not affected by dietary treatment. The FA compositions of flesh total lipids were linearly correlated with dietary FA compositions (r2 = 0.88-1.00, P < 0.0001). LO included at 50% of added dietary lipids reduced flesh DHA and EPA (20:5n-3) concentrations to 65 and 58%, respectively, of the concentrations in fish fed FO. Feeding 100% LO reduced flesh DHA and EPA concentrations to 38 and 30%, respectively, of the values in fish fed FO. Differences between diet and flesh FA concentrations showed that 16:0, 18:1n-9, and especially DHA were preferentially retained in flesh, whereas 18:2n-6, 18:3n-3, and 22:1n-11 were selected against and presumably utilized for energy. In fish previously fed 50 and 100% LO, feeding a finishing diet containing FO for 16 wk restored flesh DHA and EPA concentrations, to approximately 80% of the values in fish fed FO throughout. Flesh DHA and EPA concentrations in fish fed up to 50% LO were above recommended intake values for humans for these EFA. This study suggests that LO can be used as a substitute for FO in seawater salmon feeds and that any reductions in DHA and EPA can be largely overcome with a finishing diet high in FO before harvest.