- Abstract The red microalga Porphyridium cruentum is a new source for eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and arachidonic acid (AA) fatty acids of potential pharmaceutical value. The conditions leading to a high content of either fatty acid were investigated. The highest EPA content was obtained under conditions resulting in high growth rate (2.4% of ash free dry weight in Strain 1380-1d). High AA content was obtained under slow growth conditions and was maximal in th stationary phase or under nitrogen starvation (2.9%). Strain 1380-la had the highest content (1.9%) of arachidonic acid under exponential growth conditions. By imposing nitrogen starvation, it was possible to obtain a lipid mixture which may be separated into AA and EPA rich fractions.