Bacterial abundance results from predatory losses of individuals and replacement of losses through growth. Growth depends on sustained input of organic substrates and mineral nutrients. In this work we tested the hypothesis that bacterial growth in two oligotrophic Canadian shield lakes was limited by nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P). We also determined whether consumer-regenerated resources contributed substantially to net bacterial growth. Two types of dilution assays were conducted to determine the response of bacteria to nutrient enrichment: diluted whole water (DWW, 1:9 whole/filtered with 0.2 μm of filtered lake water) and diluted fractionated water (DFW, 1.0 μm prefiltered then diluted as above). Replicate bottles in each dilution assay received either N (50 μm), P (10 μm), or both N and P enrichments. Controls received no nutrients. Resource-saturated growth rates and grazing rates were estimated from a standard dilution-growth approach. Bacterial growth was stimulated by addition of P alone and in combination with N. Consumers regenerated sufficient resources to support up to half the bacterial growth rate, but the benefit derived from consumers was minor when compared to mortality.