Two cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning after ingestion of mussels occurred in October 1977 in Nova Scotia. The incidence of this type of poisoning is relatively high among persons living on the coast of the Bay of Fundy and the estuary of the St. Lawrence River. The causative organism, Gonyaulax tamarensis, elaborates an endotoxin, saxitoxin, that blocks neuromuscular transmission in the motor axon and muscle membrane while leaving the end-plate unaffected; it also suppresses conduction in the atrioventricular node and inhibits the respiratory centre. The clinical manifestations are unique and include numbness of the lips, tongue and fingertips within minutes of ingestion of the poisoned shellfish, then numbness of the legs, arms and neck, with general muscular incoordination, and finally respiratory distress and muscular paralysis. Treatment is symptomatic and prevention can only occur by public education.