Atrazine (ATR) has recently been shown to activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in rodents. The current study investigated the effect of ATR and two of its chlorinated metabolites, desisopropylatrazine (DIA) and diamino-s-chlorotriazine (DACT), on the HPA axis in the Long-Evans female rat. A single oral gavage administration of 75 mg/kg ATR or 60.2 mg/kg DIA (a dose equimolar to the applied ATR dose) during the morning of proestrus resulted in significant, acute increases in circulating adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), corticosterone, and progesterone. Oral doses of ATR or DIA were given daily over the course of the 4-day ovarian cycle starting on the day of vaginal estrus, resulted in a similar, dose-responsive activation of the HPA axis. The increase in ACTH, corticosterone, and progesterone by these compounds was of a similar magnitude to that produced by 5-min restraint stress. Single or multiple oral exposures to DACT, on the other hand, did not significantly alter pituitary-adrenal hormone release. These results were observed despite plasma levels of DACT being higher than any other metabolite at the time of hormone measurement. Overall, circulating metabolite concentrations following equimolar dosing were much higher than those observed after ATR administration. Additional studies indicated that the activation of the HPA axis by oral exposure to ATR and DIA was not due simply to the stimulation of gastrointestinal afferents. Similar responses were observed in rats which received an oral dose of ATR following bilateral subdiaphramatic vagotomy and following intravenous administration of DIA in jugular vein catheterized animals. We conclude that ATR and the metabolite DIA significantly activate the HPA axis following oral exposure in the female rat. Activation of this endocrine axis by these chlorotriazines could contribute to the induced changes of female reproductive function reported previously.