Mortalities and a poor growth syndrome in cattle in the Hunter River valley of New South Wales were associated with pyrrolizidine alkaloid toxicity caused by Senecio lautus (common fireweed). A clinical problem of poor growth rate on a large property, where S. lautus was very common, was associated with consistent evidence of some degree of hepatic pyrrolizidine alkaloid lesions in young growing cattle and cows. S lautus subsp maritimus from this property caused the death of 2 experimentally fed calves within 77 days and depressed growth rate in a third calf. Pyrrolizidine alkaloidosis was evident histopathologically in the liver, biliary tree and gall bladder and other organs, especially kidney, of these calves. Histopathology of liver biopsy samples was the most sensitive monitoring technique of those used to indicate exposure to pyrrolizidine alkaloids in this investigation.