The relationship between basal metabolic rate (BMR), body weight and diet is examined for primates. Contrary to the results reported in several recent works, there is no strong evidence that diet is directly linked to BMR, although a low BMR, relative to body weight, may be found in species with folivorous diets. There is some evidence that nocturnal haplorhine species have a relatively low BMR, but strepsirhines appear to have a uniformly low relative BMR regardless of their primary activity period. The evolution of BMR in primates is discussed in the light of these findings. Some predictions are made about the relative BMRs that should be found for other species whose BMR is, as yet, unknown.