Predator exclosure cages are designed to increase the clutch survival of ground-nesting birds. Predator exclosures provided for the endangered St. Helena Plover Charadrius sanctaehelenae, however, did not result in differences in clutch survival between protected and control nests and may have resulted in elevated adult mortality. Exclosures did not exclude all cats, the dominant nest predator, and it is likely that cats caused the adult mortalities observed close to the exclosures. A population model indicates that even if predator exclosures had excluded all cats, the benefits of increased clutch survival would have been more than negated by the estimated decrease in adult survival. The overall effect of predator exclosures needs to be clarified for other species, taking into consideration annual productivity and adult survival, to understand the circumstances in which predator exclosures are beneficial.