The goal of our study was to determine if toluene affected the synthesis and secretion of testosterone in fetal rats. Dams were exposed to atmospheres that contained 0.09 ppm, 0.9 ppm or 9 ppm of toluene for 90 min/day from gestational days (GDs) 14.5 to 18.5 via nasal inhalation. Fetal plasma testosterone concentrations determined by enzyme immunoassay were significantly reduced on GD 18.5 after exposure to 0.9 and 9 ppm, but not to 0.09 ppm, of toluene in male, but not in female, fetuses. We measured, using real-time PCR methods, mRNA levels in fetal testes for several steroidogenic enzymes involved in testosterone synthesis and insulin-like 3 (Insl3), a maker of Leydig cell differentiation. The mRNA levels of 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3beta-HSD) were significantly reduced after exposure to 0.9-ppm toluene. However, the mRNA levels of cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage, cytochrome P450 17alpha-hydroxylase/c17-20 lyase, 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, and Insl3 were not significantly altered by exposure to 0.9-ppm toluene. In addition, immunohistochemical analysis showed reduced 3beta-HSD-immunoreactive areas in the interstitial region of fetal testes after exposure to 0.9 and 9 ppm, but not 0.09 ppm, toluene. These findings indicate that toluene reduced the synthesis and secretion of testosterone in fetal testes from rats possibly as a consequence of reduced 3beta-HSD expression.