Many adult Lepidoptera are dependent on carbohydrate-rich solutions such as nectar and honeydew. These food sources can contain a range of carbohydrates as well as low levels of other compounds, including free amino acids, proteins and lipids. Little is known about the nutritional value of individual nectar sugars and amino acids for adult Lepidoptera. Ten sugars occurring in nectar and honeydew were tested with respect to their effects on a number of Pieris brassicae life-table parameters. In similar experiments it was investigated whether the butterfly derives nutritional benefits from mixtures of common non-essential or essential amino acids when provided either in water or in a sucrose solution. Food sources were found to have a significant effect on butterfly fertility, longevity, lifetime fecundity and daily oviposition rate. Whereas a number of sugars significantly increase longevity, melibiose and melezitose reduce P. brassicae longevity. Butterfly fecundity is compromized significantly by sucrose and melibiose. Glucose is the only sugar that has a positive effect on both longevity and fecundity as well as a number of oviposition parameters. Amino acids seem to have no or only a minor effect on the life-table parameters tested. However, when provided in sucrose, they appear to compensate for the negative effect of pure sucrose on fecundity. A comparison with an earlier study on the gustatory response of P. brassicae shows that there is only a weak correlation between the nutritional value of sugars and amino acid mixtures and their perceptibility.