Protease inhibitors of primary producers are a major food quality constraint for herbivores. In nutrient-rich freshwater ecosystems, the interaction between primary producers and herbivores is mainly represented by Daphnia and cyanobacteria. Protease inhibitors have been found in many cyanobacterial blooms. These inhibitors have been shown (both in vitro and in situ) to inhibit the most important group of digestive proteases in the daphnid's gut, that is, trypsins and chymotrypsins. In this study, we fed four different Daphnia magna genotypes with the trypsin-inhibitor-containing cyanobacterial strain Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806 Mut. Upon exposure to dietary trypsin inhibitors, all D. magna genotypes showed increased gene expression of digestive trypsins and chymotrypsins. Exposure to dietary trypsin inhibitors resulted in increased activity of chymotrypsins and reduced activity of trypsin. Strong intraspecific differences in tolerance of the four D. magna genotypes to the dietary trypsin inhibitors were found. The degree of tolerance depended on the D. magna genotype. The genotypes' tolerance was positively correlated with the residual trypsin activity and the different IC(50) values of the trypsins. On the genetic level, the different trypsin loci varied between the D. magna genotypes. The two tolerant Daphnia genotypes that both originate from the same lake, which frequently produces cyanobacterial blooms, clustered in a neighbour-joining phylogenetic tree based on the three trypsin loci. This suggests that the genetic variability of trypsin loci was an important cause for the observed intraspecific variability in tolerance to cyanobacterial trypsin inhibitors. Based on these findings, it is reasonable to assume that such genetic variability can also be found in natural populations and thus constitutes the basis for local adaptation of natural populations to dietary protease inhibitors.