|Abstract||The possibility that Damalinia ovis ingests intact epidermis could explain economically important irritation behaviour by infested sheep. To test this, feeding lice were observed on sheep by hand lens and macrophotography and on light and scanning electron microscope preparations. Aspects of feeding behaviour were described, particularly an epidermal ingestion posture. Louse ingesta were examined in paraffin and frozen sections. Lipid-covered stratum corneum squames were identified in crop, midgut, rectum and faeces. Nucleated keratinocytes from inner epidermal strata were not seen, neither were wool fibres. Vertical frozen sheep skin sections, with feeding lice cryofixed by liquid nitrogen, showed mandibles engaged in the outer stratum corneum of the epidermis. The epidermal origin of some ingesta was confirmed by confirming lice over sheep whose skin was stained with Oil Red O, whose colour was seen in crop, midgut, rectum and faeces of harvested lice. Lipase was found in louse midgut. It was concluded that sebaceous secretions may form an important component of the D. ovis diet. The relative contribution from loose scurf or from stratum corneum squames was not determined. Mechanical stimuli by feeding lice did not seem to be the source of host irritation. The role of sensitising agents in louse brei filtrates was investigated with inconclusive results. Intradermal injections of louse faeces did not elicit a demonstrable response.