- Abstract The properties of waves in a pulsar magnetosphere are considered in the most general case of a non-neutral, current-carrying pair plasma with arbitrary distribution functions for electrons and positrons. General dispersion relations are derived for a strong but finite magnetic field, including gyrotropic terms caused by the deviations from quasi- neutrality and the relative streaming of electrons and positrons. It is shown how the ellipticity of the wave polarization depends on the plasma parameters and angle of propagation. Two examples of plasma distributions are analysed numerically: a waterbag distribution and a piecewise distribution that models the numerical result for pair cascades. A possible application to the interpretation of the observed circular polarization of some pulsars is discussed.