Triplicate groups of 20 European sea bass (35 g) were fed five diets in which the added lipid was 100% fish oil (FO), 40% (CSO40), 60% (CSO60), 80% (CSO80) and 100% (CSO100) refined cottonseed oil (CSO), for a period of 120 days. Overall fish growth, feed conversion ratio and protein utilization were unaffected by dietary treatment, but hepatosomatic and visceral fat indexes increased with increasing dietary CSO. Fillet fatty acid composition of total lipids reflected the fatty acids in the test diets. The monounsaturated fatty acids were significantly higher in fillet of fish fed diet FO, CSO40 and CSO60 compared to other treatments while saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) were not affected by the dietary treatment. Some fatty acids (18:0, 18:1n-9, 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3) were present in higher concentration in fillet lipid than in the CSO100 dietary lipid indicating accumulation in fillet relative to test diets. Retention of n-3 LC-PUFA within the fillet was increasingly inefficient among fish fed increasing levels of FO. Thus, this study suggests that CSO can be considered as a relatively effective substitute for fish oil in European sea bass (35 g) in terms of growth performances and feed efficiency as far as fish meal is present in the diet.