Populations of the blowfly, Lucilia sericata (Meigen) (Diptera: Calliphoridae), have a considerable potential for rapid increase; the lifetime reproductive output of each adult female has been estimated to be between 130 and 172 eggs. Nevertheless, in the field, absolute population densities of this species are relatively low. To account for this difference, the levels of mortality affecting the eggs, feeding and wandering larvae and pupae of L. sericata were assessed in the field and laboratory. Percentage egg hatch was dependent on relative humidity with no egg eclosion at humidities below 50%; there was no significant effect of temperature on egg hatch. On infested sheep, the mean mortality of feeding larvae was 53%, but this ranged widely from 0% to 96%. There was no effect of atmospheric temperature or humidity on the mortality of feeding larvae in vivo. In the laboratory, only 10% of wandering larvae pupariated at 10°C. At above 20°C pupariation was consistently almost 100%. Percentage emergence increased from 0% at 10°C to about 80% between 20 and 30°C. The upper lethal temperature for pupae was approached at 35°C. Analysis of the predation of pupae in the field revealed a weak, but significant curvilinear relationship between temperature and proportionate mortality and a median mortality of 0.49% per 24 h exposure (interquartile range = 5.2%). There was no evidence of density dependence in pupal predation. Overall, it is estimated that pre-adult mortality accounts for losses of approximately 97% of each generation, but this figure is subject to considerable variation depending on factors such as climate, time of year and host susceptibility.