In 1992, tourist hunting in the Selous Game Reserve generated 1.28 million dollars for the Tanzanian government, of which 0·96 million dollars were returned to wildlife conservation. Lions (Panthera leo) are one of three critical species for tourist hunting, consistently generating 12%–13% of hunting revenue from 1988 to 1992. Because of their ecological and economic importance (and intrinsic value), it is important that lion quotas be set so that offtake is sustainable. The population density of lions in Selous ranges from 0·08 to 0·13 adults km−2, comparable to unhunted ecosystems. The adult sex ratio (36–41% male) and the ratio of cubs to adults (29% cubs) are similar to those of unhunted populations. The ratio of lions to hyaenas is lower in heavily hunted areas (0·17 lions/hyena) than in unhunted areas (0·43 lions/hyena). Hunting levels between 1989 and 1994 took 2·7–4·3% of adult males annually, which is sustainable. The current quota is 10–16% of the adult male population, which exceeds natural mortality rates for male lions. To remain stable if the quota was filled, the population would have to compensate via increased fecundity, increased juvenile survival, or an altered sex-ratio. Compensation occurs in Selous by producing (or raising) more male than female cubs (66–81% of juveniles are male). Only 28% of the Selous quota was filled in 1992. The percentage of quota filled (both in Selous and nationwide) has dropped since 1988 as quotas have increased. The current intensity of lion hunting in Selous is sustainable, but the quota cannot be filled sustainably.