Cutaneous mucus is the first physical and chemical barrier of fish. This slime layer is secreted by mucous cells located in the epidermis and is mainly composed of glycoproteins that have their origin in the diet. Therefore, food deprivation can potentially change the abundance and glucidic nature of skin mucous cells, thus changing the mucus properties. To test this hypothesis, we conducted an experiment with Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L. Changes in the number and glucidic nature of epidermal mucus cells were analysed using standard techniques. The outcome of this study shows that food deprivation caused a rapid decrease in the density of epidermal mucous cells in Atlantic salmon. Lectin histochemistry revealed a change in the presence and stainability of some sugar residues in the mucous cells of unfed fish compared with fed fish. Given that the primary reason for mucus secretion in fish is for protection against infections, we speculate that the changes in the mucus properties caused by nutritional stress may affect their disease resistance. This fact is particularly important for fish that spend a period of time deprived of food, either as a part of their natural life cycle, or as part of farming practices.