Some biochemical and haematological variables were measured in piglets during the first 48 hours after birth. The piglets were reared either by the sow, or bottle-fed with colostrum (either natural or sterilised by irradiation), or a commercial milk replacer. Mean haemoglobin concentrations, packed cell volumes and erythrocyte counts decreased by approximately 45 per cent in all the groups between birth and 48 hours, but leucocyte counts increased more markedly in the colostrum-fed groups. All the colostrum-fed groups showed rapid increases in serum total protein concentrations which were almost entirely due to increases in gamma globulin concentrations. There was no difference in this respect between natural colostrum and colostrum sterilised by irradiation with 500 Krad of gamma rays. Colostrum sterilised by irradiation can protect piglets against infectious agents and simplify the rearing of piglets under specific pathogen free conditions.