There is increasing demand for information on predator–prey interactions in the ocean as a result of legislative commitments aimed at achieving sustainable exploitation. However, comprehensive data sets are lacking for many fish species and this has hampered development of multispecies fisheries models and the formulation of effective food-web indicators. This work describes a new compilation of stomach content data for five pelagic fish species (herring, blue whiting, mackerel, albacore and bluefin tuna) sampled across the northeast Atlantic and submitted to the PANGAEA open-access data portal (www.pangaea.de). We provide detailed descriptions of sample origin and of the corresponding database structures. We describe the main results in terms of diet composition and predator–prey relationships. The feeding preferences of small pelagic fish (herring, blue whiting, mackerel) were sampled over a very broad geographic area within the North Atlantic basin, from Greenland in the west, to the Lofoten Islands in the east and from the Bay of Biscay northwards to the Arctic. This analysis revealed significant differences in the prey items selected in different parts of the region at different times of year. Tunas (albacore and bluefin) were sampled in the Bay of Biscay and Celtic Sea. Dominant prey items for these species varied by location, year and season. This data compilation exercise represents one of the largest and most wide-ranging ever attempted for pelagic fish in the North Atlantic. The earliest data included in the database were collected in 1864, whereas the most recent were collected in 2012. Data sets are available at doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.820041 and doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.826992.