Bruising of slaughter animals has both economic and welfare implications. In order to identify potential risk factors we surveyed bruising of red deer carcasses from a single Deer Slaughter Plant (DSP) over a three year period. Downgrading due to bruising did not vary between the three years surveyed [1991, n = 21 454, 6.5% downgraded (dg); 1992, n = 22 289, 7.9% dg; 1993, n = 22 262, 6.1% dg]. From an intensive examination of one year's kill (1991) we related the incidence of bruising to various preslaughter transport, seasonal and animal variables. Bruising varied significantly with time of year, hot carcass weight, distance transported, carrier company and carcass fatness. Bruising was related to duration of lairage for some periods of the year which varied with sex. The majority of bruising was on one or other hindquarter implying a consistent cause of the damage. Carcass quality and deer welfare can be best protected by careful driving, by only transporting animals in good condition and avoiding transporting males during the rut.