Milk from dairy farms in England and Wales has been tested regularly for antibiotic residues since 1965. The sensitivity of the test organism was 0.02 iu/ml penicillin or equivalent until the change to 0.01 iu/ml in January 1986. In 1984-85, 99.6 per cent of the 2,000,000 milk samples tested passed the test and there was an average of 695 failures per month. From 7500 on-farm investigations over the two years 1983-85 the most frequent reasons suggested by farmers for their test failures were not withholding milk for the full withdrawal period (19.3 to 16.5 per cent) and accidental transfer of milk (16.3 to 16.7 per cent). Lactating and dry cow intramammary antibiotic preparations were held responsible for rather over 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively of the failures in both years.