We studied the component community of lung-worms of the harbour porpoise, attempting to establish the relative importance of ecological and evolutionary factors on its development. The lungs of 64 porpoises by-caught in Norwegian waters were examined for helminths. Three pseudaliid species were detected. The porpoises appear to be readily colonized by lung-worms, the structure of the component community of calves being fairly similar to that of the remainder. Prenatal and/or transmammary infections might partly account for these early infections. However, host age was correlated with the number of lung-worm species, suggesting that the lung-worms may have heteroxenous cycles similar to other metastrongyloids. The lung-worm species tended to co-occur more often than expected by chance. This pattern is commonly observed in communities formed by phylogenetic relatives. Mean species richness of lung nematodes differed significantly among mammalian orders. However, species richness of marine species seemed very similar to those of most terrestrial species. This evidence suggests that phylogenetic factors seem more important than ecological ones in determining the number of lung-worm species in mammals.