The rate at which five broods of turkey chicks became colonized by thermophilic campylobacters was investigated. Day-old chicks were normally free of campylobacters on arrival on the farm with colonization beginning within 7 d. The carriage rate was 100% by day 14 in three of the broods and by day 21 in the other two. Higher carriage rates were obtained with enrichment procedures than with direct plating. Two broods were investigated over an extended interval for the number of campylobacters shed in their faeces. In brood A, campylobacters increased from day 1 to day 14 concomitant with increases in the carriage rate and in the number of chicks with diarrhoea. By day 39, when the birds were sold to other farms, the excretion rate had reached 6 × 107 campylobacters g−1 fresh faeces. Brood B was monitored over 91 d and showed peaks in Campylobacter numbers on days 19 and 75, corresponding to peaks in the number of diarrhoeic samples. The introduction of new birds into the brood resulted in an increase in the Campylobacter population and in the number of birds with diarrhoea. Campylobacter jejuni was the only species isolated but comprised several different biotypes. Analysis of the number of campylobacters at different sites along the gastrointestinal tract of mature turkeys at slaughter showed that numbers increased with distance from the beak and were highest in the caeca.