The recovery of an endangered species typically requires a multidisciplinary approach and the California condor is no exception. Here I provide an overview of the work our research group is doing to inform managers and policy makers about the major threat wild California condors face today – lead poisoning. I discuss our use of specialized analytical tools, quantitative models, and observational data to identify the source and extent of lead poisoning in condors in California. I also highlight our new work demonstrating that condors are exposed to potentially harmful levels of contaminants from feeding on dead-stranded marine mammals along the Big Sur coast. Overall, I illustrate how research can be used to help day to day as well as long-term management of a critically endangered species.