Developing rats were exposed to PCBs via provision of diets containing 0.02 (no PCB added), 2.5, 26, or 269 ppm Aroclor 1254 to sperm-positive female rats from mating to weaning of their pups. Provision of the 269 ppm diet decreased the number of impregnated rats that delivered a litter and lowered pup birth weight, and most pups died within 7 days of birth. Pregnancy success, pup birth weight, and dam body weight and food intake were not altered in the 2.5 and 26 ppm conditions. Preweaning pup growth was reduced in the 26 ppm condition and slightly reduced in the 2.5 ppm condition. The ontogeny of negative geotaxis, auditory startle, and air righting was delayed in pups from the 26 ppm condition. Pups in the 2.5 ppm condition had slightly delayed development of auditory startle. PCB exposure did not affect the duration of forepaw suspension or age at eye opening. Maximal electroshock seizure tests on postweaning rats showed that perinatal PCB exposure decreased seizure severity of both the 2.5 and 26 ppm groups as indicated by increased durations of forelimb and hindlimb flexion and decreased duration of hindlimb extension. PCB exposure increased pup liver weights at birth and dam and pup liver weights at weaning. Spleen and thymus weights were lower in PCB-exposed pups, while brain weights were unaffected. Analytical determination of PCB levels in brain showed greater maternal transfer of PCBs during lactation than during gestation. Elevated PCB levels were detectable in brains of perinatally exposed adult rats. The results indicate that perinatal PCB exposure of rats alters neurobehavioral and somatic ontogeny.