The ecophysiology of the agamid lizard Ctenophorus nuchalis was studied near Shark Bay, Western Australia, during three seasons, over four years, in order to evaluate seasonal and year-to-year variation in energy and material balance, and to compare this agamid with similar-sized iguanid lizards. We measured water influx and efflux rates and field metabolic rates with doubly-labelled water, sodium fluxes with radiosodium, and osmotic status (plasma osmotic and ionic concentrations) in free-ranging adults of both sexes, as well as juveniles. Feeding rates were calculated from diet composition information in conjunction with rates of water and sodium intake, and body condition indices were also determined. There were marked seasonal and year-to-year differences in body condition, and in rates of body mass gain or loss, and these correlated with drought periods. Rates of resource use were highest in spring, and declined through summer and autumn, and rates were lowest during 1983, a year having unusually low winter rainfall. Hatchlings, which emerged in autumn, were able to find and capture food resources, even though adults were eating little during that season. The annual pattern of energy, water and salt balance in this agamid lizard is quite similar to that of an equivalent-sized iguanid lizard.