The protein requirements for optimal growth and health of juvenile New Zealand black-footed abalone (Haliotis iris) under different water temperatures were investigated. Six diets with different crude protein amounts (0, 10, 20, 30, 40 and 45%) and two temperature regimes (13–21 and 8–16 °C) were used to culture juvenile abalone over a 4-month period. Growth (shell lengths and animal weights) and health (survival, activity and mucous production) parameters were recorded for animals within all protein and temperature combinations. Proximate analyses and amino acid profiles were also performed on the diets, soft bodies (including gonad), and shells to evaluate the overall nutrient contents (diet and animal) and requirements (animal). The results indicate that the protein requirements for juvenile H. iris are higher when the environmental temperatures are low. Thus, increasing the dietary protein level results in better growth [i.e. increase in soft body (including gonad) crude protein and mean protein gain] and health (i.e. more goblet cells and thicker epithelial layers). Results from amino acid profiles in abalone soft bodies (including gonad) and shells show that these parameters did not change considerably with different dietary protein levels, but temperature did affect the concentration of several amino acids in both soft bodies (including gonad) and shells.