Previous CD measurements of changes in the conformation of beta-lactoglobulin at neutral pH as a function of temperature indicated the formation of a molten globule state above approx. 70 degrees C. New CD measurements are reported at temperatures up to 80 degrees C with an instrument on the Daresbury synchrotron radiation source which gives spectra of good signal-to-noise ratio down to 170 nm. IR spectra were recorded up to 94.8 degrees C with a ZnSe circle cell and a single simplified model of the substructure of the amide I' band was used to give the fractional contents of beta-sheet structure unambiguously and independently of the CD spectroscopy. The results of both techniques, however, were in agreement in showing a progressive loss of beta-sheet structure with increasing temperature, beginning below the denaturation temperature. Nevertheless, the CD spectroscopy showed a fairly abrupt loss of virtually all the helical conformation at approx. 65 degrees C. Comparison of the present results with other studies on the molten globule formed at acid pH in the lipocalin family suggests that above 65 degrees C a partly unfolded state is formed, possibly by destabilization of the intermolecular beta-strand I and the loss of the main helix, but it is not a classical molten globule transition.