Postelsia palmaeformis were collected from the lower intertidal at Pigeon Point, California, USA, in May 1987, and the proximate composition and allocation of energy to the various body components were determined. The holdfast and stipe have a proximate composition (% dry weight) of ca. 40% ash, 5.3% protein, 1% lipid, 2% soluble carbohydrate, and 55% insoluble carbohydrate. The fronds have a proximate composition of ca. 25% ash, 6.5% protein, 2% lipid, 3% soluble carbohydrate, and 65% insoluble carbohydrate. The energetic level was ca. 12 kJ g-1 dry wt and ca. 19 kJ g-1 ash-free dry wt. The relative proportion of three plant components varied, comprising 26, 39, and 35% wet wt and 20, 42, and 38% kJ for the holdfast, stipe, and fronds, respectively. A plant with a basal stipe diameter of 33 mm contains 114 g wet wt and 266 kJ. The maximal density found in May 1987 was 826 plants, 49 301 g wet wt, and 106 157 kJ m-2. P. palmaeformis differs in these characteristics from another intertidal pheophyte, Durvillaea antarctica, that is found in a high-energy intertidal zone. © 1988 Springer-Verlag.