Abstract Growth is among the most important traits for animal breeding. Understanding the mechanisms underlying growth differences between individuals can contribute to improving growth rates through more efficient breeding schemes. Here, we report a transcriptomic study in muscle and brain of fast- and slow-growing turbot (Scophthalmus maximus), a relevant flatfish in European and Asian aquaculture. Gene expression and allelic association between the two groups were explored. Up-regulation of the anaerobic glycolytic pathway in the muscle of fast-growing fish was observed, indicating a higher metabolic rate of white muscle. Brain expression differences were smaller and not associated with major growth-related genes, but with regulation of feeding-related sensory pathways. Further, SNP variants showing frequency differences between fast- and slow-growing fish pointed to genomic regions likely involved in growth regulation, and three of them were individually validated through SNP typing. Although different mechanisms appear to explain growth differences among families, general mechanisms seem also to be involved, and thus, results provide a set of useful candidate genes and markers to be evaluated for more efficient growth breeding programs and to perform comparative genomic studies of growth in fish and vertebrates.