Metabolism involves multiple elements. While we know much about the allometry in metabolic response of organisms to energy (carbon, C) availability, little is known about how different-sized organisms respond to the relative availability of elements. I experimentally manipulated availability of phosphorus (P) relative to C, to test whether dietary C : P affects metabolism in four species of Daphnia, spanning an order of magnitude in body mass. Results indicated that the slope of the relationship between individual respiration and body mass was M0.83 under a balanced diet (C : P c. 150), and M0.67 under an imbalanced diet (C : P c. 800). Increased respiration under dietary imbalance was not due to increased ingestion. The change in the scaling exponent was due to the greater respiratory response of smaller species to altered diets. Diet-induced metabolic plasticity contributes to variation in metabolic allometry, at least at such small scales of body size.