It is generally accepted that predation by wolves Canis lupus is one of the major factors limiting densities of woodland caribou Rangifer tarandus caribou in North America. Conversely, little is known about the role of European wild forest reindeer R. t. fennicus as wolf prey, or about the influence of wolf predation on populations of this rare subspecies. This relationship was examined in east-central Finland, where wild forest reindeer coexist with moose Alces alces at a numerical ratio of c. 1 reindeer to 1.5 moose. During the study, moose were clearly the primary prey of wolves. Reindeer were, however, an important part of wolf diet in summer, autumn and early winter, when their remains comprised roughly 20–50% of all food items identified in wolf scats. Wolves exhibited a slight preference for reindeer over moose as prey during early winter (November–December) when the reindeer were moving towards their wintering ranges. Virtually no reindeer were killed by wolves during midwinter (January–March). This held also for a pack whose territory was located in the middle of the wintering range of reindeer, where reindeer outnumbered moose during the winter months. After the approximate ratio of wolves to reindeer increased from 0.004 (1998) to 0.02 (2000), wolf predation became the most common source of mortality (50%) for reindeer. The annual net increase in the reindeer population decreased from 13% to 7% because of increased wolf predation. The results indicate that wolf predation was an important factor limiting reindeer population growth. Wolves were, however, unable to prevent entirely the number of reindeer from increasing, partly owing to behavioural traits used by reindeer during winter and calving times.