The use of paraquat as a herbicide is becoming more extensive with the increasing popularity of no tillage agriculture, increasing the possibility of exposure for wildlife species. American kestrel (Falco sparverius) nestlings were orally dosed daily with 5 ?l/g of distilled water (controls), 10 mg/kg, 25 mg/kg, or 60 mg/kg of paraquat dichloride (1, 1'-dimethyl-4,4'-bipyridinium) in distilled water from day 1 through day 10. Forty-four percent of the nestlings given 60 mg/kg died after 4 days. Significant differences in growth rates occurred between controls and all paraquat-dosed groups. Reduced skeletal growth occurred in the humerus and femur in the 25 mg/kg and 60 mg/kg groups, and in the radius-ulna and tibiotarsus in the 60 mg/kg group. Skeletons were otherwise normal in appearance. Histopathological examination revealed localized focal necrosis in the liver of one nestling in the 60 mg/kg group and tubular cell degeneration and focal tubular dilation in the kidneys of another. The brain and lungs were unremarkable histologically. These findings suggest that altricial nestling kestrels are more sensitive to paraquat exposure than young or adult birds of precocial species.