At Cape Banks, New South Wales, adults of the small intertidal limpet, Patelloida latistrigata occur exclusively in the barnacle zone, and are primarily associated with the barnacle, Tesseropora rosea. Limpet density increases with barnacle density. Juvenile limpets can be found throughout the barnacle zone, and on patches of bare rock that may be temporarily available at lower levels on the shore. The failure of juveniles to survive and grow in places other than among Tesseropora is due to a combination of factors. These include desication at high levels on the shore, smothering by rapidly growing algae low on the shore, and the grazing activities of the larger limpet, Cellana tramoserica. These latter two factors also reduce the survival of experimentally transplanted adult Patelloida: algae by covering the substratum and smothering the limpets, and Cellana by outcompeting them for food. The density of Cellana is greater on patches of bare rock than among barnacles, and these large limpets may be unable to move and feed effectively over the irregular surface created by Tesseropora. Patelloida, however, is small enough to feed over and among these barnacles, and hence has a refuge from competition with Cellana. Barnacles may also provide shelter from the effects of desiccation and strong wave action, and thus increase the survival of juvenile Patelloida. By being associated with barnacles, however, Patelloida becomes vulnerable to intermittent predation by the whelk, Morula marginalba. This effect may be serious enough to eliminate small local populations of limpets, either by direct predation or by removing the refuge-providing barnacles. The association with barnacles may also limit the maximum size to which Patelloida can grow. Patelloida is not always found with Tesseropora, and adults in different localities can be found in association with other sessile organisms. It may be argued that small species of limpets require a spatial refuge from physical and/or biological pressures. To examine this hypothesis, the relationship between Patelloida and Tesseropora is compared to other published accounts of limpets with specialised modes of life.