This study reports observations of smooth newts, Triturus vulgaris vulgaris, breeding in a pond in southern England. Efforts were made to collect data on the timing of oviposition and on sexual behaviour during the breeding seasons of 1985 and 1986. Despite some between-year differences in the timing of certain events, the qualitative pattern of reproduction was similar in both years. Courtship interactions were seen most frequently during a relatively short period of time before females began laying their eggs, which occurred in a highly synchronized manner. It seems likely that the probability of any one courtship encounter resulting in spermatophore transfer was low. Males competed for mates by chasing females and by interfering with one another's courtships, but no overt aggression was seen. Females appeared to find such male-male interactions ‘aversive’. Scramble competition between males was most intense when the majority of females in the population were laying their eggs and were unresponsive to courtship. The mating system of the smooth newt most closely resembles a lek in which the intensity of sexual selection among males varies as a function of female availability.