Manganese is considered essential for animal growth. Manganese ions serve as cofactors to three mitochondrial enzymes: superoxide dismutase (Sod2), arginase and glutamine synthase, and to glycosyltransferases residing in the Golgi. In Drosophila melanogaster, manganese has also been implicated in the formation of ceramide phosphoethanolamine, the insect's sphingomyelin analogue, a structural component of cellular membranes. Manganese overload leads to neurodegeneration and toxicity in both humans and Drosophila. Here, we report specific absorption and accumulation of manganese during the first week of adulthood in flies, which correlates with an increase in Sod2 activity during the same period. To test the requirement of dietary manganese for this accumulation, we generated a Drosophila model of manganese deficiency. Due to the lack of manganese-specific chelators, we used chemically defined media to grow the flies and deplete them of the metal. Dietary manganese depletion reduced Sod2 activity. We then examined gene and protein expression changes in the intestines of manganese depleted flies. We found adaptive responses to the presumed loss of known manganese-dependent enzymatic activities: less glutamine synthase activity (amination of glutamate to glutamine) was compensated by 50% reduction in glutaminase (deamination of glutamine to glutamate); less glycosyltransferase activity, predicted to reduce protein glycosylation, was compensated by 30% reduction in lysosomal mannosidases (protein deglycosylating enzymes); less ceramide phosphoethanolamine synthase activity was compensated by 30% reduction in the Drosophila sphingomyeline phospodiesterase, which could catabolize ceramide phosphoethanolamine in flies. Reduced Sod2 activity, predicted to cause superoxide-dependent iron-sulphur cluster damage, resulted in cellular iron misregulation.