Leptin has an important rôle in the control of appetite and energy expenditure. Several studies have reported the effects of leptin in ruminants. However, little is known about changes in circulating leptin concentrations in neonates of ruminant species, or the effects of weaning on plasma leptin concentrations. The main objectives of this experiment were: to examine plasma leptin concentrations in lambs, in the period from just after birth through to weaning; to examine the effect of weaning on plasma leptin concentrations, and to compare leptin concentrations measured using a ‘multi-species’ leptin radio-immunoassay (RIA) kit and a specific ovine RIA in lambs during the 6-month period after weaning. In a previous paper, we reported leptin concentrations using a commercial RIA during the post-weaning period. However, we were not able to measure plasma leptin concentrations from just after birth to weaning as they were apparently below the level of sensitivity of the assay. In the present study, five crossbred lambs were removed from their dams within 2 days after birth, and bottle-fed on milk replacer at a level sufficient to meet a 1•2 times maintenance metabolizable energy intake. Lambs were weaned 45 days after birth, and housed individually in pens. The lambs were offered timothy hay, rolled barley and soya-bean meal to meet a 200 g daily gain during the post-weaning period. During the pre-weaning period, blood samples were collected within 5 h of birth and thereafter at 09:00 h; every day from 2 to 6 days of age; at 2-day intervals from 6 to 14 days of age; and at 3-day intervals from 14 to 45 days of age. During the post-weaning period, blood samples were collected before and 3 and 6 h after the morning meal at the ages of 0•5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 months. Plasma leptin concentrations slightly increased (P < 0•05) just after birth and then remained constant until 45 days old (P > 0•05). Additionally, plasma leptin concentration was not significantly changed following weaning. During the post-weaning period, plasma leptin concentrations were compared using two RIA systems. The correlation between plasma leptin concentrations measured by the ‘multi-species’ leptin RIA kit and specific ovine RIA was poor (r = 0•41). These findings are consistent with other reports and suggest that the ‘multi-species’ leptin RIA kit is not suitable for estimating leptin plasma concentrations in ruminants.