Blood parasites of breeding American kestrels, Falco sparverius (40 males and 27 females), were investigated to determine their connections to male showiness, mating success and host fitness. The only haematozoan found in the blood films was Haemoproteus tinnunculi (overall prevalence of 74% for females and 53% for males). In adult (+ 1-year-old) males, the subterminal tail band (character apparently used in female mate choice) was wider in infected males than in non-infected males. This was consistent with the Hamilton—Zuk hypothesis of parasite-mediated sexual selection. Our results also suggest that reproductive effort may increase susceptibility to parasitism. In yearling males, the proportion of individuals infected with H. tinnunuli was higher among those tending a large than a small brood at the time of fledging. Hunting effort (proportion of time spent in flight-hunting and wind-hovering) was also higher for males tending large broods than for those tending small broods, and it was higher for yearling than adult males on a given brood size. Reproductive effort may result in greater exposure and/or decreased ability to control chronic latent infections. Parasitic infections, in turn, may have detrimental effects on host fitness.