This volume of Advances in Nutritional Research focuses on colostrum and milk as agents of defense against infection both for the suckling offspring and for the lactating mammary gland. The scope of the volume includes positive and negative influences of the consumption of mother's milk on the risk of infec tion, immunobiological roles of individual milk components, activities of milk and its components in promoting development of neonatal immunocompetence, the potential of milk and its components as therapeutic agents and as functional foods that support immune competence, and external influences that determine the immunological activity of milk. The volume is intended to provide a critical assessment of the limits of available information pertaining to humans and animals, together with authoritative comment regarding newer directions and unproven ideas. Part I provides a foundation for the volume. Readers unfamiliar with immunology will find, in Chapter 1, a selective outline of the anatomy and ontogeny of the mammalian immune system and of the types and regulation of immune defenses in mammals. Some emphasis is given to the place of the mammary gland within the common mucosal defense system, and to important species peculiarities in this regard. Chapter 2 is an authoritative and forward looking perspective on the development of knowledge pertaining to the immuno biology of milk as a fluid with both anti-infectious and anti-inflammatory roles. The chapter poses the provocative possibility of a tolerogenic role for milk.