A 5-week feeding trial was conducted to assess the effect of gamma ray irradiation treatment on soybean meal as a fish meal substitute in diets for golden pompano (Trachinotus ovatus). A diet containing 32% fish meal served as a reference (C), and 75% of the fish meal was replaced by soybean meal that either received no gamma ray irradiation (R0) or was irradiated with gamma ray at a dose of 5 (R5), 10 (R10), 15 (R15), 30 (R30) or 60 (R60) kGy respectively. All the diets were formulated to contain 46% crude protein and 6.5% crude lipid. The weight gain was higher in fish fed diets R5, R10, R15 and R30 than in fish fed diet R0. The feed intake was higher in fish fed diets R15, R30 and R60 than in fish fed diets R0, R5 and R10. No significant differences were found in feed conversion ratio, nitrogen retention efficiency, condition factor, hepatosomatic index, body composition, waste outputs of nitrogen and phosphorus between fish fed the diets with non-irradiated soybean meal or irradiated soybean meal as the fish meal substitute. Proteins with heavy molecular weight in soybean meal were degraded, whereas the contents of proteins with light molecular weight or peptides increased with the increase in the irradiation dose. This study reveals that gamma ray irradiation at a dose of 5 to 15 kGy can significantly improve the level of soybean meal inclusion as a fish meal substitute in diets for golden pompano.