Adequate parenteral nutritional support improves nutritional status in cancer patients, but its effect on tumor growth remains controversial. Using a transplantable mammary adenocarcinoma in a rat-TPN model, the relative effect of different exogenous intravenous nutrients on tumor growth and host maintenance was studied. Relative to chow controls, starvation increased host depletion without reducing tumor growth. Adequate carbohydrate calories alone neither improved host maintenance nor stimulated tumor growth, yet adequate amino acids alone did improve host maintenance but also stimulated tumor growth. Adequate amino acids and carbohydrates given simultaneously maximized both host maintenance and tumor growth. In contrast, an isocaloric, isonitrogenous, intravenous diet providing non-nitrogenous calories as fat promoted host maintenance equivalent to carbohydrate-based TPN with no tumor stimulation. This apparent differential utilization of fat calories by normal and malignant cells may permit manipulation of the relative benefit of parenteral nutrition to host or to tumor, permitting host repletion without tumor stimulation or alternatively tumor stimulation at appropriate times to increase sensitivity to phase-specific antineoplastic therapy.