Sex allocation theory for simultaneous hermaphrodites predicts that hermaphrodites have a fixed amount of reproductive resources to allocate to both sex functions and that they trade off their allocation to both sexes depending on environmental conditions. Ophryotrocha diadema is a simultaneous hermaphroditic polychaete worm which has a protandrous phase prior to the hermaphroditic phase. The ability of adolescent males to compete with mature hermaphrodites for egg fertilization and the costs of an increase in male expenditure during the protandrous phase were tested in experiments where adolescent males had the possibility to fertilize hermaphrodites’ eggs. Results document that adolescent males were able to compete with hermaphrodites for egg fertilization and caused the hermaphrodites fitness losses of 31.4%. Adolescent males which fertilized hermaphrodites’ eggs had a slower growth rate than males which had no possibility to fertilize eggs. This result indicates that an increased male expenditure is a cost for adolescent males and that, during the protandrous phase, resources are allocated to reproduction at the expense of somatic development. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society , 2003, 78, 149–154.