A 20-d zebrafish (Danio rerio) feeding trial, in which a near doubling of fish weight was achieved, was conducted with GM feed ingredients to evaluate feed intake, growth, stress response and uptake of dietary DNA. A partial aim of the study was to assess zebrafish as a model organism in GM safety assessments. Roundup Ready® soya (RRS®), YieldGard® Bt maize (MON810) and their non-modified, maternal, near-isogenic lines were used in a 2 × 2 factorial design. Soya variety and maize variety were the main factors, both with two levels; non-GM and GM. Compared with fish fed non-GM maize, those fed GM maize exhibited significantly better growth, had lower mRNA transcription levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD)-1 and a tendency (non-significant) towards lower transcription of heat shock protein 70 in liver. Sex of the fish and soya variety had significant interaction effects on total RNA yield from the whole liver and transcription of SOD-1, suggesting that some diet component affecting males and females differently was present in different levels in the GM and the non-GM soya used in the present study. Dietary DNA sequences were detected in all of the organs analysed, but not all of the samples. Soya and maize rubisco (non-transgenic, multicopy genes) were most frequently detected, while MON810 transgenic DNA fragments were detected in some samples and RRS® fragments were not detected. In conclusion, zebrafish shows promise as a model for this application.