Two experiments were carried out to examine the effects of the timing and duration of mineral supplementation of the ewe's diet in the final 6 weeks of gestation on immunoglobulin G (IgG) absorption by their progeny. In experiment 1, 60 single-bearing ewes were allocated to one of four dietary treatments (no. = 15) and offered a basal diet of grass silage ad libitum, containing 50 g/kg molassed sugar-beet pulp, which was supplemented with concentrates for the final 7 weeks of pregnancy and were additionally provided with a daily mineral/vitamin supplement for the final 6 weeks (W-6), 4 weeks (W-4), 2 weeks (W-2) or no mineral/vitamin supplement, (control; W-0). The supplement contained Ca, P, Na, Mg, Mn, Zn, Se, Co, I and vitamin E and was offered at the daily rate of 48 g per ewe. The ewes were milked at 1, 10 and 18 h post partum and measured quantities of colostrum, proportional to birth weight were fed back to the progeny via a stomach tube. At each milking, colostrum yield was recorded and colostrum samples taken to determine the concentration and yield of IgG. Treatment had no effect (P > 0.05) on the yields of colostrum or IgG to 18 h post partum. The efficiency of IgG absorption was lower (P < 0.001) in the progeny of ewes who received supplementary minerals (W-6, 0.069, W-4, 0.078, W-2, 0.072, W-0, 0.261; s.e. 0.0244. P < 0.001) regardless of the duration of the mineral/vitamin supplementation period and this resulted in a reduced concentration of IgG in the lamb's serum. In experiment 2, 40 twin-bearing ewes were allocated to one of four dietary treatments (no. = 10) and offered a basal diet of grass silage ad libitum which was supplemented initially with 500 g of a concentrate containing 140 g crude protein (CP) per kg from day 98 to 133 of gestation and then replaced with 700 g/day of a concentrate containing 180 g/kg CP from day 134 of gestation until lambing, in addition to one of the following mineral/vitamin supplementation treatments : no supplementary minerals, W0 (control); 48 g of supplement per ewe per day in weeks 6 and 5 pre- partum (W6–5), or weeks 4 and 3 pre-partum (W4–3), or for the final 2 weeks pre-partum (W2–1). The ewes were milked and the lambs fed as in experiment 1. Again, treatment had no effect (P > 0.05) on the yields of colostrum or IgG to 18 h post partum. When ewes were offered the mineral/vitamin supplement in the final 2 weeks of gestation their progeny had a lower (P < 0.01) serum IgG concentration (4.6 g/l) than in the control treatment (14.0 g/l) or when the supplement was offered either in weeks 3 and 4 (11.3 g/l) or weeks 5 and 6 pre-partum (14.3 g/l). IgG absorption efficiency followed the same pattern as lamb serum IgG concentration. We conclude that supplementation of the ewe's diet at the level used in these studies for the final 2 weeks of pregnancy results in the production of offspring with a reduced ability to absorb colostral IgG. Furthermore, in order for this impairment of the IgG absorptive ability of the lamb to manifest itself the supplementation must occur for the final 2 weeks of gestation and supplementation for a 2-weekly period earlier in gestation will not elicit the same effect.