In order to determine the temperature effect on the axial muscle growth of sea bass, a stock of larvae was subjected to the following incubation and cultivation temperatures, respectively: 15 degrees C/ambient, 15/17 degrees C, 17 degrees C/ambient and 17/17 degrees C. In all groups the cross-sectional area of white and red muscles and the number and average area of the white and red muscle fibres were quantified. Results showed that the embryonic period, pre-larval phase and the end of metamorphosis were accelerated at higher temperatures. During the endogenous feeding period, muscle growth took place by fibrillar hypertrophy, and was not influenced by the temperature. Thereafter (external feeding) muscular hyperplasia began, and growth of all the muscular parameters was favoured by the effect of high incubation and cultivation temperatures, with the latter having higher influence. High incubation temperature had an slight effect on muscle growth and body length, which was only observed from 15 days. Metamorphosis finished at 3 +/- 0.4 cm in all the larvae, but this length was earlier reached at higher temperatures. At 120 days, the largest growth was obtained in the larvae maintained at a higher temperature.