Mandible development in the larval stages I–V of two palaemonid shrimp species, Palaemon elegans and Macrobrachium amazonicum, was analyzed using scanning electron microscopy, light microscopy, and confocal laser scanning microscopy. In contrast to the zoea I of P. elegans, first-stage larvae of M. amazonicum are nonfeeding. At hatching, the morphology of the mandibles is fully expressed in P. elegans, while it appears underdeveloped in M. amazonicum, presenting only small precursors of typical caridean features. In successive zoeal stages, both species show similar developmental changes, but the mandibular characters of the larvae in M. amazonicum were delayed compared to the equivalent stages in P. elegans, especially in the development of submarginal setae and mandible size. In conclusion, our results indicate heterochrony (postdisplacement) of mandible development in M. amazonicum compared to that in P. elegans, which is related to initial lack of mandible functionality or planktivorous feeding at hatching, respectively. This conclusion is supported by comparison with other palaemonid zoeae exhibiting different feeding modes. Our data suggest that an evolutionary ground pattern of mandible morphology is present even in species with nonfeeding first-stage larvae. J. Morphol. 275:1258–1272, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.