The importance of salinity experienced during embryonic development and initial larval biomass on larval growth was studied in the South American estuarine crab Chasmagnathus granulata. Ovigerous females were maintained at three salinities (15, 20, and 32) from egg laying to hatching of zoea 1. Larvae from all treatments were reared under constant conditions of photoperiod (12:12), temperature (18°C), and salinity (first instar at 20, subsequent instars at 32). Biomass was measured as dry weight, carbon, and nitrogen content per individual at egg laying, hatching of zoea 1, premoult zoea 1, and zoea 4, and in 8-day-old megalopa. From hatching to premoult zoea 4, biomass was higher for larvae from prehatching salinities of 15 and 32. There was a significant positive correlation between biomass at hatching and at premoult zoea 1 and zoea 4. Accumulated biomass during zoeal stages tended to be higher for larvae from broods with higher biomass at hatching, although this trend was not always significant. Zoea 4 either directly metamorphosed to megalopa or moulted to zoea 5, following, respectively, a short or long developmental pathway. The proportion of zoea 4 that followed the long pathway was negatively correlated with biomass of zoeal stages. Biomass at hatching was correlated with biomass of megalopae developed through the short pathway, although it was not correlated with the accumulated biomass at this stage. Megalopae developed through the long pathway (i.e. metamorphosed from zoeae 5) had higher biomass than those from the short pathway. The present results suggest that prehatching salinity and initial egg and larval biomass can be very important for larval growth.