Onchocerca gutturosa and O. lienalis inflections in British cattle were studied by examination of cattle post-mortem originating from North Wales and Cheshire (north west England). In 463 adult animals, the microfilarial (mf) prevalence was 28·5%. In 95·3% of the inflected animals, gravid worms could not be found at either the ligamentum nuchae or the gastro-splenic omentum. Dermal mf at the head were identified as O. gutturosa on the basis of their highly significant assocation with the presence of gravid O. gutturosa at the ligamentum nuchae, which were found in only 3·2% of cattle. Mfs were isolated from different skin sites and from adult worms and a minimum of 10 mfs from each isolate were examined for width and acid phosphatase (AP) staining pattern. The width of O. gutturosa dermal mf was <4 μm (4 isolations), narrower than of putative O. lienalis mf isolated from umbilical skin of cattle without evidence of O. gutturosa, which were in 20/22 isolations >4 μm wide. The dermal mf were also distinguished on the basis of different AP staining patterns which, for each species, correlated closely with that of hatched intrauterine mf from their respective adult female worms. Based on the criteria of morphology and AP staining patterns the mf species prevalences in the survey population were estimated as O. lienalis 24·1% and O. gutturosa 2·2%, with a further 2·2% of cattle inflected with both species. The results indicate that the predilection site of adult O. lienalis is not the gastro-splenic omentum. In North Wales, the distribution of the two species was different; O. lienalis was widely distributed in all cattle rearing areas both lowland and upland, whereas O. gutturosa was largely restricted to valleys close to major rivers.