A hand-held, commercially available instrument for measuring the electrical conductivity of milk (the Milk Checker) has been examined for its usefulness and accuracy in detecting subclinical and clinical mastitis. Foremilk from uninfected quarters had an electrical conductivity of 5.4 to 5.6 millisiemens (mS)/cm. Milk from cows with subclinical Staphylococcus aureus infections had a higher milk conductivity (7.1 to 7.5 mS/cm) but milk from cows with subclinical S uberis infections showed no increase in conductivity (5.3 to 5.6 mS/cm). However, experimental S uberis infections could be detected by a 50 per cent increase in the electrical conductivity of foremilk two milkings before visible signs of mastitis were apparent. The equipment could be a useful advisory/veterinary tool but is unlikely to be used routinely in the milking parlour.