We investigated the organelles involved in the biosynthesis of fatty acid (FA) derivatives in the cortical cells of Laurencia translucida (Rhodophyta) and the effect of these compounds as antifouling (AF) agents. A bluish autofluorescence (with emission at 500 nm) within L. translucida cortical cells was observed above the thallus surface via laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM). A hexanic extract (HE) from L. translucida was split into two isolated fractions called hydrocarbon (HC) and lipid (LI), which were subjected to HPLC coupled to a fluorescence detector, and the same autofluorescence pattern as observed by LSCM analyses (emission at 500 nm) was revealed in the LI fraction. These fractions were analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS), which revealed that docosane is the primary constituent of HC, and hexadecanoic acid and cholesterol trimethylsilyl ether are the primary components of LI. Nile red (NR) labeling (lipid fluorochrome) presented a similar cellular localization to that of the autofluorescent molecules. Transmission and scanning electron microscopy (TEM and SEM) revealed vesicle transport processes involving small electron-lucent vesicles, from vacuoles to the inner cell wall. Both fractions (HC and LI) inhibited micro-fouling [HC, lower minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of 0.1 µg ml–1; LI, lower MIC value of 10 µg ml–1]. The results suggested that L. translucida cortical cells can produce FA derivatives (e.g. HCs and FAs) and secrete them to the thallus surface, providing a unique and novel protective mechanism against microfouling colonization in red algae.