Microborings in the primary shell layer of Recent brachiopods are clearly seen to avoid endopunctamicroscopic canals pervading the shell fabric and housing papillose extcnlions of the mantle (the caeca). This avoidance confirms the suggestion that the caecal contents inhibit boring organisms (Owen & Williams 1969; Proc. R. Soc. Loud. B, 172), and as such the caecum can be considered as an important instrument in protecting the brachiopod shell. A comparison of the relative fecundity of co-habitating impunctate and cndopunctate New Zealand brachiopods provides indirect evidence that the caecum may indeed also function in a nutrient storage capacity.Brachiopods, microborings, primary shell layer, endopuncta, defence, storage.