Gastrointestinal parasites of livestock cause diseases of important socio-economic concern worldwide. The present study investigated the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in sheep and goats in lowland and highland regions of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Faecal samples were collected from a total of 165 small ruminants (110 sheep and 55 goats) from February to April 2011. Analysis by a modified McMaster technique revealed that 128 animals (72% of sheep and 89% of goats) were infected with one or more species of gastrointestinal parasites. The gastrointestinal parasites found and their prevalences in sheep (S) and in goats (G) were as follows: strongyle 67.3% (S), 85.5% (G); Eimeria 17.3% (S), 16.4% (G); Strongyloides, 8.2% (S), 23.6% (G); Fasciola, 5.5% (S), 18.2% (G); Trichuris, 1.8% (S), 3.6% (G); and Nematodirus, 1.8% (S), 3.6% (G). Two additional genera were found in goats: Moniezia (9.1%) and Dictocaulus (3.6%). This is the first study to quantitatively examine the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in goats in PNG. The high rates of parasitism observed in the present study are likely to be associated with poor farming management practices, including lack of pasture recovery time, lack of parasite control measures and poor-quality feed. © Cambridge University Press 2012.