Mortality due to Karoo paralysis amongst livestock is of considerable economic importance in South Africa. Indications are that the extent of vertical migration of adult ticks, to reach questing positions on grasses, is influenced by sudden climatic changes. Such influences as well as selection of questing substrates were investigated under controlled conditions. Vertical migration of adult Ixodes rubicundus on copper rods was determined in a square metal arena within a closed glass container in a room in which temperature and light could be controlled. Significantly more female and male ticks migrated vertically on 1.5 mm diameter rods than on 4.0 mm rods and on 450 mm long rods than on 100 mm rods. More ticks of both sexes migrated vertically at RH > 80% than at RH < 50% and at 12 degrees C than at 21 degrees C. More female than male and more older than younger ticks migrated vertically in all experiments. The results of this study contribute towards an understanding of the epidemiology of Karoo paralysis.