Mycoplasma gallisepticum is a well–known disease of poultry but until 1994 had not been observed in passerine birds. From 1994 to 1996, tens of millions of house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) are believed to have died in an epidemic of mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, similar to ‘pinkeye’ in humans. The outbreak of Mycoplasma gallisepticum affected finches of both sexes but disproportionately killed males, shifting the sex ratio from male–biased to female–biased. This differential male mortality is consistent with a cost of testosterone, which is a key prediction of the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis. Males and females that survived the epidemic weighed significantly less and had significantly shorter wing chords, tarsi, and bills than did individuals before the epidemic. Male survivors also had significantly redder plumage than males that did not survive, supporting the idea that plumage brightness serves as an indicator of condition, as proposed by the honest advertisement model of sexual selection.