The parenteral administration to calves of the antibiotic tilmicosin either on arrival at a feedlot or 72 hours later was evaluated in a group of 308 steer calves. The calves were allotted to 24 pens so that there were eight replicates of the two medicated groups and eight replicates of the control group. The need for veterinary treatment was reduced significantly (P less than 0.05) during the first month of the feeding period in the two medicated groups. The medicated groups had an improved average daily weight gain (P less than 0.01) over the trial period compared with the non-medicated animals. This improved average daily gain by the medicated groups was not reduced when animals with respiratory disease were excluded from the calculations. The medicated groups also had an improved feed conversion efficiency (P less than 0.01) over the first 60 days of the feeding period compared with the non-medicated animals.