Rats were exposed to 1200 ppm or 0 ppm toluene (CAS 108-88-3) for 6 h per day from day 7 of pregnancy until day 18 postnatally. Developmental and neurobehavioral effects in the offspring were investigated using a test battery including assessment of functions similar to those in the proposed OECD TG for Developmental Neurotoxicity Study, i.e., physical development, reflex ontogeny, motor function, motor activity, sensory function, and learning and memory. The exposure did not cause maternal toxicity or decreased viability of the offspring. Lower birth weight, delayed ontogeny of reflexes, and increased motor activity in the open field was registered in the exposed offspring. Impaired cognitive function was revealed in the exposed female offspring at the age of 3.5 months, i.e., they used more time to locate the hidden platform in the Morris water maze after platform relocation. The difference was not related to poorer swimming capabilities, because swim speeds were similar to control values. The results show that exposure to 1200 ppm toluene during brain development caused long-lasting developmental neurotoxicity in rats. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.