Blood samples from 433 periparturient recumbent cows submitted by veterinary practitioners to Ruakura Animal Health Laboratory during 1983 and 1984 were analysed and results related to whether cows recovered, died or were euthanased. Generally cows were sampled only once and the time varied from 15 minutes to 20 days after becoming recumbent. During 1983 serum calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, creatine phosphokinase (CK), aspartate amino transferase (AST), glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) were analysed. In 1984 serum urea, creatinine, fibrinogen and haematological examination (haemoglobin, haematocrit, total and differential white cell counts) were added to the panel. Overall 39% of cows recovered, 30% died and 32% were destroyed. Precalving cows had 111% more deaths and 7% less survivors than postcalving recumbent cows (P<0.1). There was little difference (3%) in euthanasia prevalence. Tests that were most useful in predicting a lack of recovery were serum urea and muscle enzymes. Using these tests and duration of recumbency when sampled a model was produced to predict the probability of recovery from 254 cases.