The phospholipid composition, fatty acid pattern and cholesterol content are studied in mitochondria of red lateral muscle of carp acclimated to high and low environmental temperatures. The results of the experiments are: mitochondria from cold-acclimated carp contain higher proportions of ethanolamine phosphatides than mitochondria from warm-acclimated fish, the opposite is true for the choline phosphatides. Thus, at constant pH, the membrane phospholipids are slightly more negatively charged at low acclimation temperature. The total plasmalogen content is reduced in the cold; this reduction is caused by a decrease in the proportion of the choline plasmalogens. The ethanolamine phosphoglycerides contain approx. 20% of the alk-1-enyl acyl type, irrespective of the acclimation temperature. There is no temperature-dependent difference in the low proportion of cholesterol. The fatty acids of total mitochondrial phospholipids are characterized by large amounts of the n-3 and n-6 families. The ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids and the unsaturation index are remarkably higher than those reported for comparable mammalian phospholipids. Cold acclimation of carp does not significantly increase the unsaturation of total phospholipids. A fatty acid analysis of the main isolated phospholipids, however, shows that cold acclimation considerably increases unsaturation of the neutral phosphatidylcholine, whereas it dramatically decreases unsaturation of the negatively charged cardiolipin. It is suggested that the observed fatty acid substitution in phosphatidylcholine indicates a temperature-induced fluidity adaptation within the mitochondrial lipid bilayer, whereas the inverse acclimation pattern of cardiolipin provides a suitable lipid to accommodate the temperature-dependent modifications in the dynamic surface shape of integral membrane proteins.