Five wild Califorinia condors (Gymnogyps californianus) that died in 1980-86 were necropsied and tissues were analyzed for environmental contaminants. Three died of lead (Pb) poisoning, 1 presumably of cyanide (CN) poisoning, and 1 nestling of handling shock. Organochlorine concentrations were low in 4 condors that were analyzed for these contaminants. Blood samples from 14 wild and 14 captive condors were analyzed primarily for Pb. Five of 14 wild condors sampled had elevated (> 0.70 ppm) concentrations of Pb in blood whereas Pb concentrations in all captive condors were low. Lead levels in individual birds often fluctuated over time. Lead exposure, especially poisoning, was a major factor affecting the wild California condor population during 1982-86. The probable source of Pb was bullet fragments in carrion on which condors were feeding.