1. Four randomised block experiments were conducted to determine the role of litter moisture, excreta and alternative bedding materials on the development of footpad dermatitis in growing turkeys. 2. Adding water to the litter increased external and histopathological scores independently of the presence of excreta. Fully developed lesions were induced by the application of water to dry litter in 2 to 4d. 3. Footpad lesions were associated with discomfort during walking in one experiment and body weight was lower in birds on wet compared with dry litter. 4. Footpad lesions had virtually healed 15 d after transfer of the turkeys from wet to dry litter although histopathology assessment showed some residual tissue repair. 5. Long barley straw was associated with high footpad scores on wet and dry treatments. The footpad scores for turkeys on reprocessed cardboard chips were similarly high whereas scores were similar on paper litter and wood shavings whether dry or wet. 6. It was concluded that high litter moisture alone was sufficient to cause footpad dermatitis in young turkeys and that footpad dermatitis should be minimised by the maintenance of dry litter.