The 24-hr median lethal dose (LD50) of dicrotophos (3-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyl-cis-crotonamide dimethyl phosphate) for free-living 5-day-old nestling European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris, LDso = 4.92 mg/kg body wt) was about one-half that obtained for free-living 15day-old nestlings (9.59 mg/kg) and captive adult males (8.37 mg/kg) and females (8.47 mg/ kg). Nestlings and adults with low pretreatment body weights appeared to be more vulnerable to organophosphate (OP) exposure. Brain cholinesterase (ChE) activity was severely depressed in all birds that died (74-94%); the degree of inhibition did not vary with age or sex. Inhibition of brain ChE in 5-day-old nestlings alive 24 hr post dose (X = 28-43%) was lower than that of 15-day-old (X = 55-68%) and adult (X = 55-77%) survivors. Body weights of OP-dosed birds that died were depressed an average of 20 to 46% in 5-day-olds, 7 to 20% in 15-day-olds, and 0 to 10% in adults; weight losses varied inversely with age and dosage, and directly with time to death. Average weight losses in 5- and 15-day-old survivors (X < 31 and 26%, respectively) varied directly with dose and exceeded comparable values for adults (X = 3-15%). Results suggest that (1) young nestling songbirds may be nearly twice as sensitive as adults to OPs, (2) growth of nestlings may be severely depressed following OP exposure, and (3) recovery of brain ChE activity following exposure to ChE inhibitors may be more rapid in nestlings than adults.