Proximate composition, selected mineral (Zn, Fe, Cd, As, Hg, Pb, Ni, Cu) content and fatty acid profiles were determined in some widely consumed fish species obtained from the Black Sea. All fish species analysed individually were fairly high in protein (14.1-25.1%) and lipid (7.4-18.4%). Moisture and ash content varied within a narrow range. The mineral content was highly variable. The most abundant microelements in fish were Zn and Fe followed by Cu, and the remaining elements were present in amounts below toxic levels. Eight fatty acids (16:0, 16:1, n-7, 18:0, 18:1 n-9, 18:2 n-6, 20:1 n-9, 20:5 n-3, 22:6 n-3) represented more than 60% of the fatty acid content. Saturated fatty acids ranged from 25.8 to 45.1%. Anchovy and whiting contained almost 35% of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The percentage of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) exceeded that of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in almost all the fish species examined, and the actual content of these acids has shown that sprat, whiting, garfish, red mullet, shad and sea bream provide the recommended daily intake of 1 g of EPA + DHA with reasonable amounts of fillet. These results indicate that biological differences existing in fish species can influence the values to be set for the standards and composition. (C) 1998 Society of Chemical Industry.