The objective of the first of three studies (experiment 1) was to evaluate the effects of supplementing the pregnant ewe diet with high levels of minerals for the final 4 weeks of gestation on lamb serum vitamin E and immunoglobulin G (IgG) concentration at 24 h post partum. Sixty ewes were allocated to one of two treatments (no. =30) and offered a basal diet fortified with 52 g of supplementary minerals/vitamins containing Ca, Mg, Na, P, Co, I, Mn, Se, Zn and vitamin E (M1) for the final 4 weeks of pregnancy or no mineral/vitamin supplement was added (C1). Immediately after birth, lambs were allocated to one of four treatments in a 2×2 factorial design with the factors being ewe treatment (± minerals) and colostrum origin (± minerals). Irrespective of the colostrum origin, the progeny of the mineral supplemented ewes had lower serum vitamin E and IgG concentrations and IgG absorption efficiency at 24 h post partum ( P <0·001). In a second study (experiment 2), 44 ewes were allocated to one of four treatments (no. =11) in week 13 of pregnancy and offered a basal diet in addition to one of the following mineral/vitamin fortifications: 0 g (C2), 52 g of a mineral supplement as in experiment 1 (M2), a supplement as in M1 but with iodine excluded (-I), iodine only offered at a rate (40 mg per ewe per day) equivalent to 52 g of minerals (IO). When iodine was offered either M2 ( P <0·01) or (IO) ( P <0·001) it resulted in the progeny having a reduced serum vitamin E concentration at 24 h post partum. The -I progeny had higher serum vitamin E concentrations at 24 h post partum than the progeny of treatments C2, M2 ( P <0·01) and IO ( P <0·001). In a third study (experiment 3) the effect of incremental levels of iodine supplementation on lamb serum vitamin E concentration was studied. Forty-eight ewes were allocated to one of four treatments (no. =12) and offered the following levels of supplementary dietary iodine: 0 mg (C3), 8·9 mg (LI), 17·7 mg (MI) or 26·6 mg (HI) for the final 6 weeks of pregnancy. There was a linear ( P <0·001) reduction in lamb serum vitamin E concentration as maternal iodine supplementation increased. We conclude that when ewes are offered high levels of iodine during the final 6 weeks of gestation their progeny are pre-programmed in utero to have a reduced ability to absorb colostral vitamin E. These findings support our earlier studies and provide further evidence of the need to reduce the current toxicity values for iodine. for the ewe in late pregnancy.