Caenorhabditis elegans has orthologs for most of the key enzymes involved in eukaryotic intermediary metabolism, suggesting that the major metabolic pathways are probably present in this species. We discuss how metabolic patterns and activity change as the worm traverses development and ages, or responds to unfavorable external factors, such as temperature extremes or shortages in food or oxygen. Dauer diapause is marked by an enhanced resistance to oxidative stress and a shift toward microaerobic and anaplerotic metabolic pathways and hypometabolism, as indicated by the increased importance of the malate dismutation and glyoxylate pathways and the repression of citric acid cycle activity. These alterations promote prolonged survival of the dauer larva; some of these changes also accompany the extended lifespan of insulin/IGF-1 and several mitochondrial mutants. We also present a brief overview of the nutritional requirements, energy storage and waste products generated by C. elegans.