Aggressive encounters between pairs of male mountain dusky salamanders (Desmognathus ochrophaeus) were staged in the laboratory in the absence of any obvious limited resource. We observed aggressive interactions which sometimes escalated to biting. Physical injuries were inflicted during some aggressive encounters; however, the consequences of injury for future fitness are uncertain. Several behaviour patterns used in contests apparently functioned as threat displays, and these sometimes ended contests before they escalated to biting. We could detect no significant influences of three types of asymmetries among males in determining the winners and losers of contests (body size, recent mating experience and familiarity with the testing arena). Three cases of ‘homosexual’ courtship were observed. Both intermale aggression and intermale courtship may be interpreted as forms of competition for mates.