Abstract The present study was aimed at revealing the responses of metabolite pools to selection for alternative reproductive schedules in the seed beetle, Acanthoscelides obtectus Say (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Bruchinae). The levels of metabolites (free sugars, glycogen, lipids, soluble and hydrophobic proteins) that were determined in virgin females and males at three ages from adult eclosion onwards were compared among the base population (B) and two derived lines that were selected for either early (Y) or late (O) reproduction. The results showed differences in the accumulation of metabolites during pre-adult development, as well as in the pattern of their changes during adult ageing. Generally, in comparison to the B population, the short-lived beetles from the Y line showed increased protein content and reduced carbohydrate and lipid content, whereas the opposite was true for the long-lived beetles from the O line. Females from the O line exhibited slower utilization of energy reserves and a slower increase in protein contents than females from the Y line. Females contained higher levels of free sugars, glycogen and hydrophobic proteins and lower levels of lipids and soluble proteins than males, although the sexual dimorphism was not evenly expressed among lines. Age-specific changes in metabolite contents were slower in females than males. Our findings suggest that trade-offs among capital resources are a physiological basis of early/late fitness trade-offs and point to a conservation of resources that can be used for somatic maintenance.