The present study investigated the qualitative amino acid (AA) requirements of larval African catfish Clarias gariepinus. Yolk-sac larval AA profiles were measured at different temperatures and also in animals reared at 28 °C fed Artemia nauplii or an experimental dry diet. The AA profile of C. gariepinus larvae changed during ontogeny, especially before the start of exogenous feeding. The AA profiles of the food items (yolk, Artemia and the dry diet) differed considerably from that of the larvae. No selective absorption of yolk AA was detected. Higher temperatures led to increased absorption and depletion rates of AA, and also to a higher retention efficiency of yolk nutrients. However, changes in temperature did not induce preferential absorption or depletion of individual AA, and caused only small variations in the AA profile. Depletion rates of individual AAs varied, possibly due to differences between larval and yolk AA profiles, and also to changes in the larval AA profile during ontogeny. There was little regulation of catabolism of individual AA in yolk-sac and starved larvae, and no sparing of essential AA.