Calanus species, particularly those in high latitudes, can accumulate large oil reserves consisting predominantly of wax esters. These wax esters consist predominantly of 16:0, 20:1 (n−9) and 22:1 (n−11) fatty alcohols, mainly formed de novo by the animals from non-lipid dietary precursors, esterified with various fatty acids that are often polyunsaturated fatty acids and largely of dietary, phytoplanktonic origin. Wax ester formation is maximal in copepodite stages IV and V. The lipids are elaborated not primarily for buoyancy regulation but as a source of metabolic energy during overwintering, particularly for reproduction. Large quantities of wax esters are utilised for gonadal development when stage V copepodites mature to females. Development of stage V copepodites to males is not accompanied by wax ester utilisation but males consume large amounts of these lipids in physical activity during reproduction. The role of wax esters in the life history of calanoids is illustrated with particular reference to a comparison of Calanus finmarchicus and Metridia longa in Balsfjord, northern Norway.