Two varieties of avocado leaves (Persea americana var Guatemalan and var Mexican) were administered to lactating goats. The Mexican variety was without effect. The Guatemalan variety in doses exceeding 20 g fresh leaf per kg bodyweight, produced damage to the mammary gland with decreased milk production. The lesions were characterised by oedema and reddening, with clots in the large ducts. Microscopically, there was widespread degeneration and necrosis of the secretory epithelium, the necrotic cells sloughing into the lumen. There was no significant cellular inflammatory response. Concentrations of antitrypsin in the milk, indicating changes in vascular permeability, increased rapidly 15 h after a single high dose, coinciding with palpable oedema. Concentrations of NAGase, indicating cell damage, increased after 24 h. Goats given multiple doses followed a similar pattern but the initial response was delayed. The toxic principle, and its mode of action in selectively damaging mammary secretory cells, remains to be determined.