The origins, design, fabrication and performance of an Atlantic salmon microarray are described. The microarray comprises 16 950 Atlantic salmon-derived cDNA features, printed in duplicate and mostly sourced from pre-existing expressed sequence tag (EST) collections [SALGENE and salmon genome project (SGP)] but also supplemented with cDNAs from suppression subtractive hybridization libraries and candidate genes involved in immune response, protein catabolism, lipid metabolism and the parr–smolt transformation. A preliminary analysis of a dietary lipid experiment identified a number of genes known to be involved in lipid metabolism. Significant fold change differences (as low as 1·2×) were apparent from the microarray analysis and were confirmed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis. The study also highlighted the potential for obtaining artefactual expression patterns as a result of cross-hybridization of similar transcripts. Examination of the robustness and sensitivity of the experimental design employed demonstrated the greater importance of biological replication over technical (dye flip) replication for identification of a limited number of key genes in the studied system. The TRAITS (TRanscriptome Analysis of Important Traits of Salmon)–salmon genome project microarray has been proven, in a number of studies, to be a powerful tool for the study of key traits of Atlantic salmon biology. It is now available for use by researchers in the wider scientific community.