Feeding responses of the generalist herbivore, Littorina littorea (L.), to the perceived ‘taste’ of macroalgae were assessed with respect to the effects of recent dietary intake and to overlapping versus nonoverlapping distributions of winkles and algae. The extent of grazing on artificial substrates impregnated with crude algal extracts was used as a measure of rate of response to the odour of preferred algae, and of feeding preference among less preferred algae, in a variety of designs. Adult L. littorea collected from a site where a range of algae were present showed preference among extracts of fucoids, whereas adults from a nearby site showed no such preference. Juvenile L. littorea of two weight cohorts collected from the former site responded faster to Porphyra umbilicalis extract-containing substrate than similar-sized animals from the latter site. Juveniles, fed either Porphyra, Ulva lactuca, or starved for two weeks in the laboratory, responded similarly to Ulva versus Porphyra extracts in a dose-dependent manner across a range of concentrations, although the Porphyra-maintained group consumed more of each, and the starved group less over seven days. Juveniles maintained on a mixed diet of Ulva and Porphyra consumed more Porphyra extract and less Ulva extract over the same period. These results are discussed in relation to the possible role of ingestive conditioning and previous dietary history in determining the occurrence and extent of chemically-mediated feeding preference in L. littorea.