Concentrations of over 100 ppm (100 mg/kg) selenium (Se) have been found in aquatic food chains associated with irrigation drainwater. Both quantity and composition of dietary protein for wild ducklings may vary in selenium-contaminated environments. Day-old mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) ducklings received one of the following diets containing 22% protein: unsupplemented (controls), 15 ppm Se (as selenomethionine), 60 ppm Se, methionine supplemented, 15 ppm Se with methionine supplement, or 60 ppm Se with methionine supplement. In a second concurrent experiment the above sequence was repeated with a protein-restricted (11%) but isocaloric diet. In a third concurrent experiment all ducklings received 44% protein with 0, 15, or 60 ppm Se added. After 4 weeks, blood and tissue samples were collected for biochemical and histological examination. With 22% protein and 60 ppm Se in the diet, duckling survival and growth was reduced and histopathological lesions of the liver occurred. Antagonistic interactive effects occurred between supplementary methionine and Se, including complete to partial alleviation of the following Se effects by methionine: mortality, hepatic lesions, and altered glutathione and thiol status. With 11% protein, growth of controls was less than that with 22% protein, Se (60 ppm) caused 100% mortality, and methionine supplementation, although protective afforded less protection than it did with 22% protein. With 44% protein, ducklings experienced physiological stress, and Se was more toxic than with methionine-supplemented 22% protein. These findings suggest the potential for antagonistic effects of Se, methionine, and protein on duckling survival and physiology.