1.Pairs of European Triturus newt species of similar size tend not to co-occur syntopically, suggesting that similarity in body size is associated with competitive interactions that prevent coexistence. I tested this hypothesis with an experiment involving larvae of four species in 675-L artificial ponds. 2. There were strong interactions between most species pairs. Even the small T. helveticus had a clear impact on the larger T. alpestris. Pairs of species with different body sizes did not interact less strongly. 3. A standard increase in competitor biomass (c.2 mass at metamorphosis) caused 42% lower expected survival from hatching to 1 year of age, regardless of whether the species were of similar or different size. In most cases this resulted from delayed metamorphosis, reduced size at emergence, and slightly lower larval survival. 4. A standard increase in competitor density (0·74 individuals m − 2 ) caused a greater reduction in expected 1-year survival when the competitor was larger (18% decline) than when both species were of similar size (6% decline), primarily because the very large T. cristatus consumed the smallest species. 5. These findings suggest that species interactions during the larval stage cannot explain distribution patterns of same- and different-sized Triturus.