Hydrothermal acid treatment, was adopted to extract eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from wet biomass of Nannochloropsis salina. It was found that sulfuric acid-based treatment increased EPA yield from 11.8 to 58.1 mg/g cell in a way that was nearly proportional to its concentration. Nitric acid exhibited the same pattern at low concentrations, but unlike sulfuric acid its effectiveness unexpectedly dropped from 0.5% to 2.0%. The optimal and minimal conditions for hydrothermal acid pretreatment were determined using a statistical approach; its maximum EPA yield (predicted: 43.69 mg/g cell; experimental: 43.93 mg/g cell) was established at a condition of 1.27% of sulfuric acid, 113.34 degrees C of temperature, and 36.71 min of reaction time. Our work demonstrated that the acid-catalyzed cell disruption, accompanied by heat, can be one potentially promising option for omega-3 fatty acids extraction.