During courtship and mating, males of some invertebrate predators risk being killed and consumed by females, who in turn can obtain a foraging benefit from feeding on males. In these invertebrates, the sex ratio at the end of the mating season is usually female biased, probably due to sexual cannibalism and other sources of male mortality. Thus, at the end of the mating season males can be a limited resource to females as both mates and prey. Because of the high risk incurred when approaching females, males should show mate choice. To date there are little data on the costs and benefits of sexual cannibalism in natural populations. For one month we followed the mating patterns of 60 late-maturing Mediterranean tarantula, Lycosa tarentula L., females in a desert grassland population. The later a female matured, the shorter was her cohabitation time with males and the lower her probability of cohabiting with a male at all, suggesting that late-maturing females may be limited in their access to males as mates. At the end of the mating season, nonsexually cannibalistic late-maturing females also had poorer body conditions than did both sexually cannibalistic late-maturing females and early-maturing females, suggesting that late-maturing females may be also limited in their access to males as food. Females had higher mating success if they were smaller or in better condition (better fed). This pattern may reflect either male choice, or the possibility that small, well-fed females have higher mating success because they are less aggressive towards males. © 2003 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.