Lithophaga date mussels from three species (L. lessepsiana, L. simplex and L. purpurea) were removed from their stony coral hosts in the Red sea at Eilat, Israel. Spawning, observed in the laboratory on several occasions during 1987-1988, appeared to be closely tied to lunar periods, occurring primarily during the last quarter and the new moon. Embryonic and larval development was typical of that described for other mytilids and, except for pigmentation differences, which could be discerned during embryogenesis, the developmental stages of the three species were indistinguishable. Development to the pediveliger stage took 3 to 4 wk in standard culture conditions, but raising the temperature to 27.5 °C increased the growth rate of larvae of L. lessepsiana by as much as three-fold, so that the pediveliger stage was attained in 16 d. Larvae resulting from spawning by L. simplex adults removed from the coral Astreopora myriophthalma grew significantly faster in culture than larvac from adults removed from the coral Goniastrea pectinata (comparison of slopes, p<0.05). The latter individuals showed a 6-d growth plateau at the early umbone stage. Metamorphically competent larvae were capable of delaying metamorphosis for up to 4mo, which would allow an extended period for dispersion and would increase the chance of finding a suitable substratum in the natural environment.