Feeding and growth rates of 1–3 wk old herring larvae from four different stocks were compared in laboratory experiments (8°C). For most of the larval groups, feeding rate was saturated at nauplii (Acartia tonsa, nauplii stages 3–5) densities over 301−1 (5 μg d.w. 1−1). Specific growth rate increased asymptotically with nauplii density, and reached about 6% d−1 at densities over 120 nauplii 1−1. The growth rates attained in the laboratory were similar to field measured growth rates of similarly aged herring larvae at comparable food densities. Since food particles were homogenously distributed in the laboratory tanks, patches of dense plankton concentrations are, thus, apparently not necessary for larval growth and survival in the sea. Growth efficiency differed between larval groups, with large sized larvae being the most efficient in transforming ingested matter into growth. The difference probably relates to different sizes rather than to the different geographical origins of the larvae.