The effect of nitrogen fertilization on Aphis gossypii Glover color and size, fertility, and intrinsic rate of increase (r m ) was studied on cotton plants. Nitrogen fertilization treatments consisted of 0, 50, 100, and 150% of the agronomic recommended level. Adult and nymph densities, as well as r m , were positively correlated with nitrogen fertilization. Aphid body length, head width, and darkness of color were recorded in populations on cotton plants fertilized with 100% nitrogen or with no nitrogen fertilization. Aphids on nitrogen-fertilized plants were significantly bigger and darker. All body size and darkness of color measurements were positively correlated with aphid fecundity. It was also found that the nutritional quality of the host plant on which the parent generation feeds has a stronger effect on the aphids than that of the quality of their own food plants. This phenomenon may dampen the effect short-term fluctuations in host plant quality have on aphid performance. Results are discussed in the context of aphid population biology, aphid–plant interactions and aphid population management.