One-day old American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) nestlings were dosed orally daily with 5 ?l/g of corn oil (controls), 25 mg/kg, 125 mg/kg, or 625 mg/kg of metallic lead in corn oil through day 10. Forty percent of the nestlings given 625 mg/kg died after six days. Growth rates became significantly different from controls in the 625 mg/kg group by day 3 and in the 125 mg/kg group by day 4. Crown-rump lengths and brain weights were significantly lower in both treatment groups. Liver and kidney weights were lower in the 625 mg/kg groups. Skeletal examination and measurement of alizarin red-S stained nestlings revealed reduced growth for the humerus, radius-ulna, femur, and tibiotarsus in the 125 mg/kg and 625 mg/kg groups. Skeletons were otherwise normal in appearance. Greater than 2 ppm (wet weight) lead in the liver or 6 ppm in the kidney was associated with suppressed growth, while more than 5 ppm in the liver and 15 ppm in the kidney occurred in survivors in the 625 mg/kg group. The order of accumulation of lead in tissues at the end of 10 days was kidney> liver> brain. These findings suggest that altricial nestlings may be considerably more sensitive to lead exposure than adults and also more sensitive than hatchlings of many precocial species.