Nutritional and bioenergetic interactions influence exposure to environmental chemicals and may affect the risk realized when wildlife are exposed in the field. Here, food-chain analysis focuses on prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) and the evaluation of chemical risks associated with paraquat following 10-d dietary exposures. Reproductive effects were measured in 60-d trials that followed exposures to paraquat-tainted feed: control (untainted feed); 21 mg paraquat/kg feed; 63 mg paraquat/kg feed; and feed-restricted control (untainted feed restricted to 60% baseline consumption). Reproductive success was evaluated in control and treated breeding pairs, and a preliminary bioenergetics analysis was completed in parallel to derive exposure dose. Although reproductive performance differed among groups, feed-restriction appeared to be the dominant treatment effect observed in these 10-d feeding exposure/limited reproductive trials. Exposure dose ranged from 3.70-3.76 to 9.41-11.51 mg parquat/kg BW/day at 21 and 63 mg paraquat/kg feed stock exposures, respectively. Energetic doses as ug paraquat/kcal yielded preliminary estimates of energetic costs associated with paraquat exposure, and were similar within treatments for both sexes, ranging from 4.2-5.5 and 13.1-15.0 ug paraquat/kcal for voles exposed to 21 mg/kg feed stock and 63 mg/kg feed stock, respectively. Given the increasing likelihood that environmental chemicals will be found in wildlife habitat at 'acceptable levels', the critical role that wildlife nutrition plays in evaluating ecological risks should be fully integrated into the assessment process. Tools applied to the analysis of risk must gain higher resolution than the relatively crude methods we currently bring to the process.