Between the beginning of the 1970s and the early 1990s the breeding population of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the Italian peninsula declined from 29 to nine breeding pairs. We analysed the main aspects of the decline of this population during the last 30 years, namely: (1) landscape structure and composition of active and extinct nesting sites; (2) changes in the land use and number of cattle within the breeding range; (3) productivity (1986–1999) of the last nine pairs breeding in the Italian peninsula. Further decline in the breeding population was probably stopped by creating artificial feeding sites and protecting the last nesting sites from direct persecution. Nearly two-thirds of the pairs laid at least one egg per year, and half of the pairs fledged at least one young per year. The mean number of fledged young was 0.99 T 0.66 per breeding pair, and 1.27 T 0.45 per successful pair. About 75% of the breeding failures occurred during incubation, and 71% were related to human activities and direct persecution. The nesting cliff occupation rate, percentage of breeding attempts that fledged at least one chick and mean number of fledged young were negatively correlated with the distance to an artificial feeding site. # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.