Estimates of (co)variance components and genetic parameters were obtained for birth (no. = 3909), weaning (no. = 3425), yearling (no. = 2763), and final weight (no. = 2142) for Gobra cattle at the Centre de Recherches Zootechniques de Dahra (Senegal), using single trait animal models. Data were analysed by restricted maximum likelihood. Four different animal models were fitted for each trait. Model 1 considered the animal as the only random effect. Model 2 included in addition to the additive direct effect of the animal, the environmental effect due to the dam. Model 3 added the maternal additive genetic effects and allowed a covariance between the direct and maternal genetic effects. Model 4 fitted both maternal genetic and permanent environmental effects. Inclusion of both types of maternal effects (genetic and environmental) provided a better fit for birth and weaning weights than models with one maternal effect only. For yearling and final weights, the improvement was not significant. Important maternal effects werefound for all traits. Estimates of direct heritabilities were substantially higher when maternal effects were ignored. Estimates of direct and maternal heritabilities with model 4 were 0·07 (s.e. 0·03) and 0·04 (s.e. 0·02), 0·20 (s.e. 0·05) and 0·21 (s.e. 0.05), 0·24 (s.e. 0·07) and 0·21 (s.e. 0·06), and 0·14 (s.e. 0·06) and 0.16 (s.e. 0·06) for birth, weaning, yearling and final weights, respectively. Correlations between direct and maternal genetic effects were negative for all traits, and large for weaning and yearling weights with estimates of -0·61 (s.e. 0·33) and -0·50 (s.e. 0·31), respectively. There was a significant positive linear phenotypic trend for weaning and yearling weights. Linear trends for additive direct and maternal breeding values were not significant for any trait except maternal breeding value for yearling weight.