Abstract White crappie, Pomoxis annularis Rafinesque, provides important sport fisheries across North America but sometimes exhibits slow growth and fails to reach sizes acceptable to anglers. Three dissimilar white crappie populations were studied to assess whether differences in growth were associated with size and age at maturity and subsequent larval production. Similar to other species, female white crappie matured at younger ages and smaller sizes and contained larger ovaries in the population with the slowest growth; this population also had the lowest annual mortality. Larval production (number m−3) in this population was intermediate to that of the other populations. Attempts to improve growth of white crappie in the slow-growing population will probably be hindered by these individuals’ greater reproductive investment, which reduces the amount of energy available for somatic growth.