Temperature changes during ENSO cause mass mortalities of adult Cancer setosus, but the effects on larvae are still unknown. We present first results on the influence of temperature on survival, development and biochemical composition of larvae of the hairy crab, Cancer setosus, from a population off the northern Chilean coast. In rearing experiments conducted at four different temperatures (12, 16, 20, 22 °C), zoeal development was only completed at 16 and 20 °C, after 78 and 36 days, respectively. Instar duration was negatively correlated with temperature. A multiple linear model relating larval body mass (in carbon) to temperature and developmental time suggests that successful larval development is possible within a narrow temperature range only. The biochemical composition, measured as carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen (C, H, N) content, show in general the typical oscillating changes during the moult cycle of brachyuran crab larvae. However, at high (22 °C) and low (16 °C) temperatures, CHN values show deviations from the typical pattern, indicating threshold temperatures for larval activity and survival of the Antofagasta population. Results indicate that larvae are much more vulnerable to temperature changes than adult C. setosus.