The mechanism of essentiality of dietary phospholipid (PL) for larval fish is not clear. The main objective of the present study was to determine if the PL requirement of Atlantic cod larvae was due to any genetic impairment caused by functional immaturity. Cod larvae were sampled at 1, 3, 8, 13, 17, 18, 30, 42 and 60 days post hatch (dph) for transcriptome analysis using a recently developed microarray. The fatty acid profile and gene expression levels of cod larvae at 17 dph were compared after feeding differently enriched rotifers, which contained different DHA levels in PL. No significant differences (p<0.05) were found for the two rotifer diets in the overall gene expression level of cod larvae, their growth and survival, and their DHA levels in total lipid and PL fraction. The fatty acid data suggested that dietary EPA was elongated to DPA by cod larvae, and a threshold DHA level in PL to maintain membrane fluidity and other functions may exist. There appeared to be no major effect of development on the expression of key genes of PL biosynthesis suggesting no genetic constrain in early developmental stages. Our overall data suggested that besides the possible limited de novo PC synthesis ability in the intestine, other metabolic constraints should also be considered, especially the possible low input of bile PC as a result of immature liver. Further studies are needed to elucidate the gene expression level and enzyme activity in the PL biosynthesis pathways for specific tissue or cells.