Shorter season length and lower temperature towards higher latitudes and altitudes often select for intraspecific clines in development and growth rates. However, the physiological mechanisms enabling these clines are not well understood. We studied the relationship between routine metabolic rate (RMR) and larval life-history traits along a 1500-km latitudinal gradient across Sweden. In a laboratory common garden experiment, we exposed eight common frog Rana temporaria populations to two experimental temperatures (15 and 18 °C) and measured RMR using flow-through respirometry. We found significant differences among populations in RMR, but there was no evidence for a linear relationship between latitude and RMR in either temperature treatment. However, we found a concave relationship between latitude and RMR at the lower experimental temperature. RMR was not correlated with growth rate at population or at individual levels. The results obtained suggest that, unlike in growth and development rates, there is no latitudinal cline in RMR in R. temporaria tadpoles. © 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 98, 217–224.