Diet and growth of larval lake herring (Coregonus artedi) and lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) were compared in mesocosm experiments in a small mesotrophic lake in southeastern Michigan. Fish were sampled from single-species and mixed assemblages in 2-m3 cages for 8 weeks during April and May. Both species initially ate mostly cyclopoid copepodites and small cladocerans (Bosmia spp.). Schoener's index of diet overlap showed considerable overlap (70-90%). Lake whitefish ate Daphnia spp. and adult copepods about 2 weeks earlier than did lake herring, perhaps related to their larger mean mouth gape. Lake whitefish were consistently larger than lake herring until the eighth week, especially in the sympatric treatments. Lake whitefish appeared to have a negative effect on the growth of lake herring, as lake herring in mixed-species treatments were smaller and weighed less than lake herring reared in single-species treatments. The diet similarities of lake whitefish and lake herring larvae could make them competitors for food in the Great Lakes. The greater initial size of lake whitefish could allow them to eat larger prey earlier and thereby limit availability of these prey to lake herring at a crucial period of development.