The effect of perinatal hypothyroidism on hippocampal mossy fiber zinc density was examined in rats. Timed pregnant Sprague-Dawley rat dams were given water containing either 0.02% propylthiouracil (PTU) or vehicle from gestational day 18 until their litters were weaned on postnatal day 31. Hippocampal mossy fiber zinc density was reduced by 75% in both the dorsal and ventral hippocampal formation CA3 stratum lucidum region of 31-day-old PTU-treated rats compared to untreated controls. Perinatal hypothyroidism did not alter hippocampal tissue zinc concentration, indicating that the PTU-induced reduction in mossy fiber zinc was not a consequence of reduced hippocampal zinc concentration. At 120 days of age, 3 months after discontinuation of PTU treatment, hippocampal mossy fiber zinc density remained significantly reduced by 33-45% in PTU-treated rats compared to control. These data indicate that perinatal hypothyroidism causes a long-lasting reduction in hippocampal mossy fiber zinc density.