Twenty-five gilts without measurable serum antibody titres to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) were identified and 16 were inoculated with PRRSV at seven, 14 or 21 days of gestation and killed 20 to 22 days later to determine the effect of the virus on their embryos. The remaining nine gilts were not exposed to PRRSV, but were killed at the same stages of gestation. The gilts were observed for clinical signs of infection and the gilts and their embryos were tested for PRRSV and homologous antibodies. The infection was demonstrated by the re-isolation of the virus and its detection by the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction in serum and other tissue samples from the inoculated gilts, and also by seroconversion. However, the gilts remained healthy throughout the study, except for one which was depressed and anorexic for two days. Two of the litters from the gilts challenged with PRRSV on day 14 of gestation contained one and three infected live embryos; the other embryos from these two litters did not contain detectable virus, although most of the embryos in one of the litters were dead. The other nine litters from the gilts challenged with PRRSV and the control litters, showed no evidence of infection.