Organ distribution of mercury after in utero mercury vapor exposure was investigated in neonatal guinea pigs. Mother guinea pigs in late gestation were exposed to 0.2-0.3 mg/m/sup 3/ mercury vapor 2 h per day until giving birth. Mercury concentrations in neonatal brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, plasma and erythrocytes were much lower than those of maternal organs and tissues. Neonatal liver, however, showed a mercury concentration twice as high as maternal liver. Mercury concentration ratios of erythrocytes to plasma in offspring were quite different from those of mothers, being 0.2-0.4 for offspring, and 1.3-3.0 for mothers. These results suggested that mercury vapor metabolism in fetuses was quite different from that in their mothers. This may be due to the different blood circulation, as mercury vapor transferred through the placental barrier would be rapidly oxidized into ionic mercury in fetal liver and accumulated in the organ. The different mercury vapor metabolism may prevent fetal brain, which is rapidly developing, and thus vulnerable, from being exposed to excessive mercury vapor.