Faecal egg counts were examined in 2 flocks of naturally infected Scottish Blackface sheep in southern and central Scotland. The distribution of mean counts was right skewed and similar to a gamma distribution. The counts varied with month, with mean counts rising from May to July, then falling but rising again in October, although data within each year did not always show such a clear pattern. There was no significant difference in mean egg count between the 2 farms examined. The distribution of egg count variances was also right skewed and conformed to a gamma distribution. There was a strong relationship between the mean and the variance for each population, implying that variation among populations in variances largely mirrored variation in mean egg counts. Populations with high mean egg counts and variances did not necessarily have more adult nematodes but had a greater number of adult nematodes from species other than Teladorsagia circumcincta, particularly Cooperia spp., Trichostrongylus axei and Trichostrongylus vitrinus. The contribution of different parasite species to the egg count explains the relatively poor and inconsistent fit of the negative binomial distribution to faecal egg counts in lambs.