The effects of condensed tannins extracted from seven forages on the viability of the eggs and first stage (L1) larvae of the sheep nematode Trichostrongylus colubriformis were evaluated in in vitro assays. The extracts of condensed tannins were obtained from Lotus pedunculatus (LP), Lotus corniculatus (LC), sulla (Hedysarum coronarium), sainfoin (Onobrychus viciifolia), Dorycnium pentaphylum (DP), Dorycnium rectum (DR) and dock (Rumex obtusifolius). Extracts containing 200 to 500 microg/ml reduced the proportion of eggs that hatched. The larval development assay was used to evaluate the effect of the extracts on the development of either eggs or L1 larvae to L3 infective larvae. Development was allowed to proceed for seven days by which time the larvae in control incubations had reached the infective L3 stage. Extracts containing 200 microg/ml from LP, DP, DR or dock prevented egg development, and only 11, 8 and 2 per cent of the eggs developed to L3 larvae with extracts from LC, sulla and sainfoin, respectively. When the concentration was 400 microg/ml no eggs developed to L3 larvae. The addition of the extracts after hatching also inhibited the development of L1 to L3 larvae; 200 microg/ml extracted from LP, LC, sulla, sainfoin, DP, DR and dock resulted in only 14, 18, 17, 15, 14, 16 and 4 per cent of L1 larvae developing to the L3 stage compared with 85 per cent for controls, and 400 microg/ml further reduced the development of L1 larvae. Statistical analyses showed that when the extracts were added before hatching they were significantly (P<0.001) more effective at inhibiting the larval development than when they were added after hatching. The condensed tannins from dock had the greatest inhibitory effect on egg development followed by the tannins from DR, sainfoin, DP, LP, sulla and LC.