Primates are among the major groups of frugivores in the tropics, but little is known about their role in natural regeneration of African savanna ecosystems. In the savanna-forest mosaic of north-eastern Ivory Coast the olive baboon (Papio anubis Lesson) harvests fruit from at least 79 plant species. Over a 24-mo study period, 396 faecal samples from 10 groups of baboons were analysed in terms of quantitative and qualitative aspects of seed handling and dispersal (excluding grasses and sedges). Seventy-three per cent of seeds in faecal samples were undamaged. Intact seeds were from 65 species. On average, defecations contained intact seeds from 2.0 species (range = 0–10). Seed size varied between 1 and 27 mm, and 77% of the species had medium-sized to large seeds. No linear correlation between mean seed size and seed damage was found. Eighteen out of 19 species tested were viable after ingestion, but effects of gut passage upon germination varied widely. The baboon population in the study area (145 km2) dispersed an estimated 1483 intact seeds d−1 km−2 (129 seeds > 2 mm in size). The results suggest that the olive baboon is an important seed disperser in the savanna-forest ecosystem of West Africa.