Combined exposure to stressors and chemicals may result in synergistic effects. The effects of prenatal exposure to the organic solvent toluene resemble those observed in offspring of gestationally stressed dams, a possible common mechanism being transfer of stress-/toluene-induced increments of corticosteroids from the maternal to the foetal compartment. Pregnant rats were subjected to either 1500 ppm toluene 6 hr/day and/or a schedule of "Chronic mild stress" during the last two weeks of gestation. Exposure to toluene was associated with reduced birth weight and lower maternal weight gain, the latter being enhanced by maternal stress. A depressant effect of toluene on maternal corticosterone was observed, hence the study does not provide immediate evidence that transfer of elevated levels of corticosterone from the maternal to the foetal compartment mediates the effects of prenatal exposure to toluene.