Alcohol is known to have various deleterious effects in all animals including man. The present study was designed to establish whether the effects of moderate EtOH intake during pregnancy on offspring are due to toxic effects of the substance or to nutritional changes; whether effects are long lasting or limited in duration; and whether effects are due to the prenatal action of the substance or effects persisting into the postnatal period. The findings show that the effects obtained in our study are due to malnutrition engendered in the prenatal period and are of limited duration. Since much evidence suggests that early deficits are difficult to compensate for, it is possible that the tests used with mature animals in this study may have been insensitive to residual deficits. Alternatively, rats may truly have compensated for early retardation. This does not necessarily imply that the same compensatory processes would apply in humans, where greater complexity of environmental demands is imposed from an early age.