The fractional quantum Hall effect, where plateaus in the Hall resistance at values of h/e2 coexist with zeros in the longitudinal resistance, results from electron correlations in two dimensions under a strong magnetic field. (Here h is Planck's constant, the filling factor and e the electron charge.) Current flows along the sample edges and is carried by charged excitations (quasiparticles) whose charge is a fraction of the electron charge. Although earlier research concentrated on odd denominator fractional values of , the observation of the even denominator = 5/2 state sparked much interest. This state is conjectured to be characterized by quasiparticles of charge e/4, whose statistics are 'non-abelian'—in other words, interchanging two quasiparticles may modify the state of the system into a different one, rather than just adding a phase as is the case for fermions or bosons. As such, these quasiparticles may be useful for the construction of a topological quantum computer. Here we report data on shot noise generated by partitioning edge currents in the = 5/2 state, consistent with the charge of the quasiparticle being e/4, and inconsistent with other possible values, such as e/2 and e. Although this finding does not prove the non-abelian nature of the = 5/2 state, it is the first step towards a full understanding of these new fractional charges.