The effects of phenylethyl alcohol (PEA) on the pregnancy of female CrL: COBS CD (SD) BR strain rats (25/control and mid-dose groups, 35/low- and high-dose groups) exposed to PEA by skin painting at dose levels of 0 (water control), 0.14, 0.43 or 1.40 ml/kg/day during days 6-15 of pregnancy were evaluated. The animals were sacrificed on day 20 of pregnancy. Significant differences between high-dose level and control dams were observed in the following: increased clinical observations such as irritability, hunched posture, walking on toes, piloerection and peri-orbital staining, and increased mortality (3/35 animals), decreased body weight gain, decreased levels of creatinine, glutamic-pyruvic transaminase, and increased white cell count. Significant differences between high-dose level and control litter parameters were observed in the following: increased incidence of embryo-fetal deaths (primarily early in pregnancy), decrease in litter size and weight, increased incidence of defects including anophthalmia/microphthalmia, ventricular septal defects, defects/irregularities affecting thorax, and/or kinky tail, defects of the thoracic ribs and occurrence of cervical rib(s). No significant differences between treated and control animals were observed in the following: relative liver and kidney weights, or pregnancy rates. No significant differences between mid- and low-dose level and control groups were observed with respect to maternal toxicity or litter parameters, although a small, dose-dependent increase in some of the morphological parameters was observed in the fetuses of the mid-dose level group.