The semiterrestrial grapsid crab Chasmagnathus granulata Dana is one of the most predominant inhabitants of brackish salt marsh ecosystems in South America. Its early postembryonic stages were reared in the laboratory from hatching of the first larval stage through the first juvenile crab instar, and changes in the quantity and elemental composition of biomass (measured as dry weight, W; carbon, C; nitrogen, N; hydrogen, H) were investigated in short intervals of time (every 1 or 2 d). In a series of successive developmental stages, the accumulation of biomass per individual can be described as an exponential function of the number of moults. In contrast, the pattern of growth within individual moulting cycles is described with best fit of observed and predicted data as a quadratic function of development time elapsed since last ecdysis. Weight-specific instantaneous growth rates show decreasing trends within the moulting cycle. Cumulative biomass increments during larval development of C. granulata are among the highest on record for brachyuran crabs. The quantities and patterns of larval growth are in this species similar as in most marine brachyuran crabs, for which data are available, but different from those in some other semiterrestrial grapsid crab species, which live in similar brackish water habitats as C. granulata. Hence, the early postembryonic stages ofC. granulata do not show special bioenergetic adaptations to the non-marine conditions, which prevail in the adult habitat of this species. This reflects a strategy of larval export to the sea, i.e. a reproductive dependence of this species on the marine environment.