The contributions of Peter Hochachka to the development of comparative and adaptational biochemistry are substantial. In particular, he and his academic offspring made major contributions to the understanding of the metabolism of molluscs and fishes. These two large taxonomic groups each have marine, freshwater and terrestrial/semiterrestrial representatives, and their mitochondrial metabolism has been shaped by these environmental conditions. In particular, the importance of amino acids and lipids as energy sources has interesting correlations with the environment and the osmotic strategy used. In marine molluscs, amino acids are important aerobic energy sources, and are used as osmolytes and participate in anaerobic metabolism. In marine elasmobranchs, amino acids and ketone bodies, but not lipids per se, are important energy sources in extrahepatic tissues. Marine and freshwater teleost fish by contrast use lipids as an extrahepatic energy source with minimal use of ketone bodies. Furthermore, ketone bodies are important in the metabolism of freshwater and terrestrial but not marine molluscs. The bases for these different metabolic plans may lie in the solute systems used by the different groups (e.g. amino acids in marine molluscs and urea in marine elasmobranchs). The various metabolic options used by fishes and molluscs indicate the plasticity of metabolic design in an environmental context.