Changes in seabird populations, and particularly of penguins, offer a unique opportunity for investigating the impact of fisheries and climatic variations on marine resources. Such investigations often require large-scale banding to identify individual birds, but the significance of the data relies on the assumption that no bias is introduced in this type of long-term monitoring. After 5 years of using an automated system of identification of king penguins implanted with electronic tags (100 adult king penguins were implanted with a transponder tag, 50 of which were also flipper banded), we can report that banding results in later arrival at the colony for courtship in some years, lower breeding probability and lower chick production. We also found that the survival rate of unbanded, electronically tagged king penguin chicks after 2-3 years is approximately twice as large as that reported in the literature for banded chicks. ?? 2004 The Royal Society.