Summary. Heterogeneity in detection probabilities has long been recognized as problematic in mark-recapture studies, and numerous models developed to accommodate its effects. Individual heterogeneity is especially problematic, in that reasonable alternative models may predict essentially identical observations from populations of substantially different sizes. Thus even with very large samples, the analyst will not be able to distinguish among reasonable models of heterogeneity, even though these yield quite distinct inferences about population size. The problem is illustrated with models for closed and open populations.