Laboratory experiments examined interspecific interactions between larvae of three coccinellid species, Curinus coeruleus Mulsant (Chilocorinae), Harmonia axyridis Pallas and Olla v-nigrum (Mulsant) (Coccinellinae), and between these and larvae of the green lacewing, Chrysoperla rufilabris (Burmeister). Larvae of C. coeruleus, although defended on their dorsal surface with long spines, had the smallest mandibles, were the slowest-moving, and the least successful in interspecific larval combat. The long spines of third instar C. coeruleusappeared to reduce their palatability as food to H. axyridis and O. v-nigrum larvae in choice tests with dead larvae, but were not an effective defence against these species in Petri dish arenas. Larvae of O. v-nigrum had a smooth dorsal surface, were intermediate in terms of mandible size, but were the fastest moving, a trait that benefited their survival in intraguild combat. Larvae of H. axyridis were intermediate with respect to dorsal spines and speed of movement, but had the largest mandibles. This species was the most effective intraguild combatant among the coccinellids and the only one to successfully compete against C. rufilabris larvae of similar age. The speed, manoeuverability and long mandibles of C. rufilabris enabled them to impale coccinellid larvae at a relatively safe distance. The spines of C. coeruleus larvae impeded laterally oriented attacks by C. rufilabris, but did not provide sustained protection from repeated attacks. Success in these interactions appeared largely a function of offensive weaponry (mandible size and morphology) and speed of movement, although the role of dorsal spines as defensive structures was not ruled out. Rates of larval cannibalism were highest for C. rufilabris and largely mirrored the level of aggression observed in interspecific combat for each species.