A study of 37 by-caught harbour porpoises from Icelandic and Norwegian waters showed that most were in good or moderate nutritional condition and none was severely emaciated. Mild infection with lungworms (Halocercus invaginatus, Pseudalius inflexus, Torynurus convolutus) was found in 84% of the Icelandic and 91% of the Norwegian animals, usually associated with bronchopneumonia which was rarely severe. Most (91%) of the animals had parasites in the stomach and intestine (Anisakis simplex, Contracaecum osculatum, Pholeter gastrophilus), and Campula oblonga was present in the liver and pancreas of 88 and 21%, respectively. Oesophagitis, gastritis, cholangitis, pericholangitis, pancreatitis and lymphadenitis were almost exclusively associated with parasitic infection and usually mild. Bacterial isolates were obtained from 50 to 55% of the animals but were not considered to be clinically significant. There was no indication of morbillivirus infection. Icelandic and Norwegian animals showed a thicker blubber layer and a lower incidence of severe lesions, especially in the respiratory tract, as compared with reports of by-caught animals from the Baltic Sea.