Jatropha platyphylla is available on the pacific coast from Sinaloa to Michoacán including the Nayarit and Jalisco states in Mexico. The seeds of J. platyphylla are rich in oil and protein, and the kernel meal (JPKM) prepared after oil extraction contains 70–75% crude protein (CP). Contents of essential amino acids (except lysine) are higher in JPKM than in soybean meal (SBM). Phorbol-esters, the main toxin present in most Jatropha species is absent in J. platyphylla. Heat-treated JPKM (H-JPKM) was evaluated as a protein supplement in tilapia feed and compared with that of SBM and fish meal (FM). Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.) fingerlings (15 fish; av. body mass 13.9 ± 0.17 g) were randomly distributed in three groups with five replicates each. A 12-week experiment was conducted in a respirometer system to evaluate the growth performance, nutrient utilization and energy budget. Nile tilapia fingerlings were fed three iso-nitrogenous diets (36% CP): Control containing FM, and Jatropha and Soybean diets in which 62.5% of FM protein was replaced by H-JPKM and SBM respectively. The growth performance, feed conversion ratio, protein efficiency ratio, apparent lipid conversion and energy retention did not differ significantly among the three groups. Higher protein productive value was observed in plant protein fed groups. Average metabolic rate, energy expenditure per g protein fed and retained in the body did not differ significantly among the three groups. Conclusively, Nile tilapia fed plant protein (heated JPKM and SBM) and FM protein-based diets exhibited equal average metabolic rate which indicate that JPKM can be used as a protein source in aqua feed.