The starch content of red algae normally increases during nitrogen limitation. Based on this we hypothesized that nutrient deprivation would result in an increased activity of starch-synthesizing enzymes and a decrease in the activity of starch-degrading enzymes, with the opposite scenario when nutrients were sufficient. We therefore examined the effect of the nutrient status of Gracilaria tenuistipitata Chang et Xia on the content of starch and floridoside and on the activity of enzymes involved in the allocation of carbon into starch, floridoside, and agar; floridoside phosphate synthase and α-galactosidase involved in synthesis and degradation of floridoside; starch synthase and starch phosphorylase involved in the metabolism of starch; uridine 5′-diphosphate (UDP)-glucose pyrophosphorylase; adenosine 5′-diphosphate-glucose pyrophosphorylase; UDP-glucose 4-epimerase; and phosphoglucomutase. During the period of nutrient limitation the starch and floridoside content increased, as did dry weight and C/N ratio, whereas growth rate and protein content decreased. A general decrease in the enzyme activities during nutrient limitation was also observed, indicating a decrease in overall cellular metabolism. The addition of nutrients caused an increase in enzyme activities and a decrease in the contents of starch and floridoside. Of the enzymes examined, only the activity of UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase increased during nutrient limitation and decreased abruptly after nutrient addition. This implies a regulatory role for this enzyme in the supply of UDP-glucose for starch synthesis. It also supports our suggestion that UDP-glucose is the substrate for starch synthesis in red algae. This assertion is further strengthened by the observation that of the potential starch synthases only the UDP-glucose starch synthase could support the observed rate of starch synthesis.