The energy efficiency of the foraging behavior of Astropecten articulatus (Say) was evaluated in the laboratory. Individuals utilized in the study were collected in the northern Gulf of Mexico from 1990 to 1992. Sea stars presented with equal numbers and weights of low-quality and high-quality prey consistently selected prey of the higher quality. Choice of prey appeared to be mediated by contact chemoreception. Individuals presented with equal weights or equal numbers of different-sized prey models demonstrated a significant preference for smaller prey. Size-selective feeding may be attributable to the ease of manipulation and ingestion of smaller prey, which mazimizes food intake per unit time. In the absence of prey, A. articulatus exhibited a directional pattern of movement. However, as prey were encountered, both the frequency and magnitude of angular deviations in the foraging path increased, resulting in increased foraging in areas of higher prey density. This response to prey availability may increase foraging efficiency by maximizing the rate of prey encounter. Like four other species of the genus Astropecten, A. articulatus exhibited two peaks of activity corresponding with dawn and dusk. Diurnal activities with periods of increased prey availability or periods during which predators are diminished or absent. The sea star A. articulatus exhibits foraging behaviors consistent with the maximization of net energy intake per unit foraging time. © 1993 Springer-Verlag.