Haptoglobin (Hp) molecule has been cloned and characterized in two marine teleosts (gilthead seabream and European sea bass), obtaining putative proteins of 319 residues encoded by an ORF of 960 bp in both species. However, the matrix of similarity revealed low identities among bony fish species 78.9% (seabream-sea bass), 43% (seabream/seabass-zebrafish) and lower than 20% with sharks and human. The protein sequences showed a signal peptide from the position 1 to 23, a trypsin domain from 47 to 297, and several predicted disulfide bridges and glycosylation sites. The expression of hp transcript levels during ontogeny showed a progressive increase of expression in seabream whilst remained almost unaltered in sea bass. By tissues, this gene was found constitutively expressed with the highest levels on liver in both species. The main results on hp transcript levels showed the up-regulation in gilthead seabream suffering from naturally occurring lymphocystis disease; and the down-regulation and up-regulation after nodavirus infection in the resistant gilthead seabream and the susceptible European sea bass, respectively. These findings demonstrate for the first time an important role of haptoglobin against viral infections, operating differently in two of the most important marine farmed fish species.