Chronic or repeated stress during critical periods of human fetal brain development has been associated with various learning, behavioral and/or mood disorders in later life. In this investigation, pregnant Fischer 344 rats was individually restrained three times a day for 45 min during the last week of gestation in transparent plastic cylinders while at the same time being exposed to bright light. Control pregnant females were left undisturbed in their home cages. Anxiety and depressive-like behavior was measured in the offspring at an age of 6 months using the open field test, the home cage emergence test and the forced swim test. Prenatally stressed rats spent more time in the corners and less time along the walls of an open field, while no difference in total distance moved was observed. In addition, prenatally stressed rats took more time to leave their home cage in the home cage emergence test. On the other hand, no differences in immobility were observed in the forced swim test. Moreover, prenatally stressed rats showed lower stress-induced plasma corticosterone levels compared with control rats. Prenatal stress (PS) had no effect on the number of 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine-positive cells - used as a measure for cell proliferation - in the dentate gyrus of these rats. These data further support the idea that PS may perturb normal anxiety-related development. However, the present data also suggest that an adaptive or protective effect of PS should not be ignored. Genetic factors are likely to play a role in this respect. .