||In king penguin juveniles, the environmental transition from a terrestrial to a marine habitat, occurring at fledging, drastically stimulates lipid catabolism and the remodelling of muscle mitochondria to sustain extensive swimming activity and thermoregulation in the cold circumpolar oceans. However, the exact nature of these mechanisms remains only partially resolved. Here we investigated, in vitro, the uncoupling effect of increasing doses of fatty acids in pectoralis muscle intermyofibrillar mitochondria isolated, either from terrestrial never-immersed or experimentally cold water immersed pre-fledging king penguins or from sea-acclimatized fledged penguins. Mitochondria exhibited much greater palmitate-induced uncoupling respiration and higher maximal oxidative capacity after acclimatization to marine life. Such effects were not reproduced experimentally after repeated immersions in cold water, suggesting that the plasticity of mitochondrial characteristics may not be primarily driven by cold exposure per se but by other aspects of sea acclimatization.