To explore the mechanisms leading to excessive adiposity in chicken, we investigated the regulation of fatty acid oxidation depending on genotype-related body fatness and diet composition. mRNA expression and/or activity of proteins involved in mitochondrial energy metabolism were measured in liver and gastrocnemius muscle of genetically lean or fat chickens reared on a low-fat/high-protein diet or an isoenergetic high-fat/low-protein diet (HF/LP). Muscle expressions of the muscle isoform of carnitine-paimitoyltransferase 1 (M-CPT1) and PPAR beta/delta were higher in fat than in lean chickens. This was also observed in liver, although only with the HF/LP diet for M-CPTI. This could stimulate mitochondrial fatty add oxidation in fat chickens. Up-regulations of liver and muscle CPT-1 hepatic isoform, and muscle cytochrome-c-oxidase mRNA expressions, and of beta-hydroxyacyl-CoA-dehydrogenase activities suggest higher fatty acid utilization with the HF/LP diet. PPAR beta/delta and PGC-1 alpha could control fatty acid oxidation in muscle and liver, respectively. Regulation of avian uncoupling protein (avUCP) mRNA was tissue-dependent. Predominantly expressed in muscle, it was stimulated in fat and in HF/LP-fed chickens, where it could be associated to the special need in muscle anti-oxidant pathways of fatter animals. In liver it was lower in fat than in lean chickens, and its potential function remains to be clarified. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.