The distribution and fatty acid composition of cardiac choline and ethanolamine glycerophospholipids in both migratory and demersal fish and bovine and pig were determined. Phospholipid contents (mg/g heart) were 4.7-9.4 in demersal fish, 14.0-16.5 in migratory fish, and 16.8-20.6 in mammals. Phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) were the major components in the phospholipid fraction. Diacyl forms represented 50.2-88.1% of PC in all animals, while plasmalogens comprised 47.0% in bovine, 8.2% in pig and 6.2-7.2% in four species of fish. In PE, plasmalogens varied from 45.0% in bovine and 57.9% in pig to 26.1-29.7% in fish. This glycerophospholipid subclass was identified as containing higher proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs; 20:4, 20:5, and 22:6) than found in alkylacyl- and diacyl-glycerophospholipids. Qualitative and quantitative differences were found in PE-plasmalogen between land mammals and fish, especially with regard to n-3 fatty acid composition, but no significant difference was noted between migratory and demersal fish.