In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that understanding nutrient partitioning is central to a much broader range of issues than just being able to predict productive outputs. The extent to which nutrients are partitioned to other functions such as health and reproduction is clearly important, as are the efficiency consequences of nutrient partitioning. Further, with increasing environmental variability, there is a greater need to be able to predict the ability of an animal to respond to the nutritional limitations that arise from the environment in which it is placed. How the animal partitions its nutrients when resources are limited, or imbalanced, is a major component of its ability to cope, that is, its robustness. There is mounting evidence that reliance on body reserves is increased and that robustness of dairy cows is reduced by selection for increased milk production. A key element for predicting the partition of nutrients in this wider context is to incorporate the priorities of the animal, that is, an explicit recognition of the role of both the cow's genotype (genetic make-up), and the expression of this genotype through time on nutrient partitioning. Accordingly, there has been a growing recognition of the need to incorporate in nutritional models these innate driving forces that alter nutrient partitioning according to physiological state, the genetically driven trajectories. This paper summarizes some of the work carried out to extend nutritional models to incorporate these trajectories, the genetic effects on them, as well as how these factors affect the homeostatic capacity of the animal. At present, there are models capable of predicting the partition of nutrients throughout lactation for cows of differing milk production potentials. Information concerning genotype and stage of lactation effects on homeostatic capacity has not yet been explicitly included in metabolic models that predict nutrient partition, although recent results suggest that this is achievable. These developments have greatly extended the generality of nutrient partitioning models with respect to the type of animal and its physiological state. However, these models remain very largely focussed on predicting partition between productive outputs and body reserves and, for the most part, remain research models, although substantial progress has been made towards developing models that can be applied in the field. The challenge of linking prediction of nutrient partitioning to its consequences on health, reproduction and longevity, although widely recognized, is only now beginning to be addressed. This is an important perspective for future work on nutrient partitioning.