The general biology and pathology of Lepeophtheirus salmonis and Caligus elongatus and the prevention and treatment of such ‘sea-lice’ infestations on farmed salmonids are described from the literature and original observations. The life-cycle of L. salmonis and probably also that of C. elongatus comprises the egg and 10 stages separated by moults, namely, two nauplius, one infective copepodite, four chalimus, two pre-adult and the adult (male and female) stages. Water temperature greatly affects the rate of development, especially for early larval stages. Heavy infestations of wild fish seem rare, and lice are lost fairly rapidly in freshwater. In Scotland at least L. salmonis shows a succession of generations on farmed salmonids; generation time is about six weeks at 9–12 C. Post-chalimus stages of C. elongatus may exchange between farmed salmonids and wild fish (especially gadoids). Epizootics (particularly with L. salmonis) cause great damage to salmonids in Norwegian and Scottish farms largely through feeding on host skin. The dermis is oedematous and haemorrhaged where lice feed, and blood seeps between scales; deaths probably result from osmoregulatory failure. Whilst prevention of infestation is difficult, a bath treatment for 1 h with 1 ppm of the organophosphorus compound Dichlorvos is effective against post-chalimus stages of L. salmonis on caged salmonids. Side effects are minimal and clearance rates from fish tissues satisfactory, but treatment may be required every 3–4 weeks.