Among hatchery-reared lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) of the 1979-1982 year classes stocked in New York waters of Lake Ontario, more than 3 million fish were marked with a coded wire tag (CWT) plus an adipose fin clip, and 1.5 million with only conventional fin clips. Altogether, 7,640 tags were recovered from fish collected with bottom trawls and gill nets or caught by anglers during 1980-1983. One person was able to extract and decipher 200 or more CWTs per day with about a 1% error rate in reading and recording codes. Presence of the CWT did not affect growth. The adipose fin clip did not regenerate. The occurrence of fish with an adipose fin clip but no CWT resulted primarily from the regeneration of paired fins among fish marked with a combination of the adipose fin and a paired fin. Loss of CWTs between marking and stocking (generally 4-5 months for fish stocked in spring and 1-8 d for fish stocked in fall) declined from nearly 11% for the 1979 year class stocked as fall fingerlings to less than 3% for the 1981 and 1982 year classes - a difference that primarily reflected improvements in instrumentation and tagging technique. The rate of CWT loss after the marked fish were stocked was probably less than 1% per year. The CWT is a reliable method for marking hatchery-reared lake trout. A large number of experimental groups can be uniquely marked, and fish from each group can be accurately identified throughout their life. Use of this technique should greatly facilitate evaluations of genetic strain, hatchery experience, condition at time of stocking, season of stocking, size at stocking, method of stocking and other factors that affect poststocking survival and performance of lake trout stocked in the Great Lakes.