The strain by nutrition interaction in body weight and survival rate was examined by testing three genetic groups (Selection and Control lines of the GIFT strain, and Red tilapia) at two levels of protein in the diet (28% and 34%). The GIFT strain of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) has been selected for high-breeding values for body weight, whereas the Control was contemporaneously maintained and selected for breeding values of body weight close to the population mean. The Red tilapia (Oreochromis spp) was unselected at the time of the experiment. There were a total of 6000 fish at stocking in the study (2000 fish per genetic group). During the grow-out period of 147 days, within each genetic group, the fish were randomly assigned to either a 28% or a 34% protein diet. Survival rate during grow-out averaged 72%. A total of 4335 fish were harvested, with individual body measurements and survival recorded. The effect of genetic group accounted for the largest proportion of variation in body weight and survival, followed by sex and protein level. Across the two dietary protein levels, the GIFT strain had the highest growth. The difference in body weight between the Control and Red tilapia was not statistically significant (P > 0.05). Responses in growth to dietary protein levels also differed between genetic groups. No differences (P > 0.05) in body weight were found in the GIFT selection and Control fish fed 28% or 34% protein diets. However, body weight of Red tilapia was greater in the high- than in the low-protein diet. In contrast to body weight, survival rate from stocking to harvest was affected by protein level. The high-protein diet significantly improved survival rate, averaging 24% across the three strains. The overall results indicate significant effects of genetic group and dietary protein level on both body weight and survival rate; however, the interaction between strain and dietary protein levels was small and possibly unimportant for these traits. It is concluded that the 28% protein diet used in the selection programme for the GIFT strain results in the selection of genotypes that can perform well under commercial feeds.