Endurance training and/or a fish oil supplemented diet affect cytoplasmic fatty acid binding protein (FABP(c)) content in rat skeletal muscles and heart. After 8 weeks of swimming, trained rats exhibited higher FABP(c) content in the extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and in the gastrocnemius than did control rats (30%). The FABP(c) increase was associated with an increase of citrate synthase activity (85% and 93%, respectively, in the two muscles), whereas lactate dehydrogenase activity decreased significantly. In contrast, in the soleus and in the heart we did not observe any effect of exercise either on FABP(c) or on the metabolic profile. Therefore, increasing oxidative capacities of muscle by exercise resulted in a concomitant increase of the FABP(c) content. Giving a polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega-3) supplemented diet for eight weeks induced a large rise of the FABP(c) in EDL (300%), gastrocnemius (250%), soleus (50%) and heart (15%) without a concurrent accumulation of intramuscular triglycerides or modification of the citrate synthase activity, suggesting that polyunsaturated fatty acids may increase FABP(c) content by up-regulating fatty acid metabolism genes via peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha activation. Endurance trained rats fed with an omega-3 diet had similar FABP(c) content in the gastrocnemius muscle when compared to sedentary omega-3 fed rats, whereas an additive effect of exercise and diet was observed in the EDL. The FABP(c) in the soleus and in the heart of rats fed with omega-3 supplements remained constant whether rats performed exercise or not. As a result, both exercise and omega-3-enriched diet influenced FABP(c) content in muscle. These two physiological treatments presumably acted on FABP(c) content by increasing fatty acid flux within the cell.