Low serum cortisol levels in a young puppy, following adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) stimulation, were used to establish a clinical diagnosis of Addison's disease. This was likely to have been congenital although studies of adrenocortical function in close relatives showed no evidence of a genetic origin for the condition. Autoantibody to canine adrenal tissue was not present. Further investigations are necessary to establish the role of autoantibody in canine hypoadrenocorticism. The diagnosis of primary adrenocortical hypoplasia was confirmed at post mortem examination.