South Louisiana crude oil was fed to duckling mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) in concentrations of 0.025, 0.25, 2.5, and 5.0% of the diet from hatching to 8 weeks of age to assess the effects of chronic oil ingestion during early development. Growth was depressed in birds receiving a diet containing 5% oil but there was no oil-related mortality. Diets containing 0.25, 2.5, and 5.0% oil impaired avoidance behavior of 6-day-old mallard ducklings when compared with controls or ducklings fed 0.025% oil, but had no effect on open-field behavior of 7-day-old ducklings. Liver hypertrophy and splenic atrophy were gross evidence of the pathological effects of oil in birds on the 2.5 and 5.0% oil diets. Biochemical lesions that occurred included elevation of plasma alanine aminotransferase and ornithine carbamyl transferase activity. Hepatocyte hypertrophy and bile duct proliferation in the liver were noted in birds fed the 2.5 and 5.0% oil diets and tubular inflammation and degeneration in the kidney were noted in birds fed the 5.0% oil diet.