Sexual selection by female choice can maintain male traits that are counter selected by natural selection. Alteration of the potential for sexual selection can thus lead to shifts in the expression of male traits. We investigated female mate choice for large male body size in a fish (Poecilia mexicana) that, besides surface streams, also
inhabits two caves. All four populations investigated, exhibited an ancestral visual preference for large males. However, only one of the cave populations also expressed this female preference in darkness. Hence, the lack of expression of female preference in darkness in the other cave population leads to relaxation of sexual selection for large male body size. While P. mexicana populations with size-specific female mate choice are characterized by a pronounced male size variation, the absence of female choice in one cave coincides with the absence of large bodied males in that population. Our results suggest that population differences in the potential for sexual selection may affect male trait variation.