The development of oral vaccines is of great importance in veterinary medicine and new adjuvants and carriers are essential to this aim. Liposomes are effective systemic adjuvants but the relatively little data on their potential as oral adjuvants is inconclusive. Liposomes containing ovalbumin (OA) were effective adjuvants when administered intraperitoneally to mice. Feeding mice with OA or keyhole limpet haemocyanin in liposomes in a series of priming and boosting regimes failed to elicit any significant increase in serum or intestinal antibody response compared with feeding the free antigen. Oral tolerance induction to systemic challenge was also unaffected by OA entrapment in liposomes. In vitro liposome stability assays at 37 degrees C demonstrated a substantial resistance to disruption in the presence of acidic stomach contents. However, the addition of bile caused a rapid and profound release of protein marker from the liposomes. The rate and degree of disruption was influenced by the type of phospholipid used. These results suggest that liposomes may be useful as carriers for orally administered compounds but they are ineffective as adjuvants for the non-particulate, naturally weak immunogens used in this study.