Milk collected from the red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) between day 100 and 260 of lactation showed major changes in milk composition at around day 200 of lactation, the time at which the pouch young begins to temporarily exit the pouch and eat herbage. The carbohydrate content of milk declined abruptly at this time and although there was only a small increase in total protein content, SDS PAGE analysis of milk revealed asynchrony in the secretory pattern of individual proteins. The levels of ??-lactalbumin, ??-lactoglobulin, serum albumin and transferrin remain unchanged during lactation. In contrast, the protease inhibitor cystatin, and the putative protease inhibitor whey acidic protein (WAP) first appeared in milk at elevated concentrations after approximately 150 days of lactation and then ceased to be secreted at approximately 200 days. In addition, a major whey protein, late lactation protein, was first detected in milk around the time whey acidic protein and cystatin cease to be secreted and was present at least until day 260 of lactation. The co-ordinated, but asynchronous secretion of putative protease inhibitors in milk may have several roles during lactation including tissue remodelling in the mammary gland and protecting specific proteins in milk required for physiological development of the dependent young. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science Inc.