The effects of polyphenolic compounds from brown algae on grazing and growth rate of the California red abalone Haliotis rufescens Swainson were examined. Abalone consumed three phenolic-poor algal species, Laminaria sinclarii (Harvey) Farlow, Macrocystis pyrifera Agardh, and Nereocystis luetkeana Postels et Ruprecht (mean phenolic content = 0.52% dry mass), at a greater rate than two phenolic-rich species, Dictyoneurum californicum Ruprecht and Cystoseira osmundacea Agardh (mean phenolic content = 4.60% dry mass). This inverse relationship between phenolic content and consumption rate also existed after the algae were macerated and the liquid portion of the blended slurry incorporated in agar discs. However, the correlation between grazing rate and phenolic content imprpve d in this latter experiment, thus suggesting that abalone grazing was deterred significantly by the morphology of L. sinclarii and, to a lesser extent, of M. pyrifera. Polyphenolics extracted from D. californicum reduced abalone grazing rates by 90% when incorporated into agar discs at a concentration of 6 mg·ml−1. Although abalone were unable to maintain body mass when fed ad libitum on macerated M. pyrifera incorporated into agar discs, polyphenolics from D. californicum further inhibited shell growth when added to the discs at 5 mg·ml−1. The abalone ate less of the phenol-containing discs than of the discs lacking phenolics. Our results support findings of several prior studies that polyphenolic compounds from brown algae deter grazing by coastal zone herbivores in the northeast Pacific Ocean.