The adulticidal, ovicidal, and larvicidal effects of selamectin against flea (Ctenocephalides felis felis) infestations on dogs and cats were evaluated in a series of seven controlled and masked studies (three in cats, four in dogs). Animals were randomly allocated to treatment with either selamectin at a minimum dosage of 6mgkg(-1) in the commercial formulation or one of two negative-controls (0.9% NaCl solution or the vehicle from the commercial formulation). Treatments were administered topically in a single spot on the skin at the base of the neck in front of the scapulae. Speed of kill, measured by flea comb counts at 12h intervals during the 48h immediately following a single treatment on day 0, was evaluated in two studies. One study was in dogs and the other in cats, and each animal was infested with approximately 100 unfed viable adult fleas prior to treatment. Reductions in geometric mean flea counts for selamectin compared with saline were >98% between 24 and 36h after treatment in dogs, and between 12 and 24h after treatment in cats (P< or =0.0006). Efficacy in reducing flea egg hatch and larval development was evaluated in four studies, in which dogs and cats were treated once on day 0 and then repeatedly infested with approximately 600 fleas. Flea eggs were collected approximately for 72h after each infestation, on days 3, 7, 14, 21, and 30, counted, and cultured to determine their hatchability and subsequent larval development. Compared with the vehicle, selamectin was highly effective in reducing flea egg hatch (>92% in cats) and larval development (> or =95% for dogs and cats), and emergence of adults (97.8-100% for dogs, 85.6-100% for cats) for 30 days. Effects of exposure to hair coat debris were investigated in a study with dogs treated once on day 0 and repeatedly infested with 100 adult fleas. Debris (dander, flea faeces, hair, scales) was collected on days 1, 7, 14, 21, and 30 and added to normal flea eggs or larvae for incubation. Compared with debris from vehicle-treated dogs, debris from selamectin-treated dogs was highly effective in preventing egg hatch (>96%), in killing larvae (>98%) and in preventing larval development to adults (>99%) (P</=0.0033). Selamectin was shown to be highly effective in the treatment and control of flea infestations (C. felis) on dogs and cats. The adulticidal, ovicidal, and larvicidal effects of selamectin will be important in interrupting the flea life cycle by preventing the introduction and establishment of new flea infestations in a household environment.