Experimental intrauterine growth retardation was studied in sheep. Endometrial caruncles (anlagen of maternal cotyledon) were removed before pregnancy and at a second operation, catheters were implanted into the ewe and fetus at 105-135 days of pregnancy. Three groups of fetuses were defined: low birthweight-for-dates (small-caruncle), normal birthweight-for-dates (normal-sized-caruncle) from ewes which had endometrial caruncles removed and the controls. The mean placental weights in these groups were 139 plus or minus 5 g, 283 plus or minus 46 g, 334 plus or minus 22 g respectively. The brains, kidneys and adrenals of the small-caruncle-fetuses were significantly greater in proportion to body weight than in the controls and the appearance of ossification centres was delayed. Arterial oxygen tension was lower and packed cell volume higher in the small-caruncle-fetuses (PaO2 15 plus or minus 0.6 mmHg; packed cell volume 37.3 plus or minus 1.6%) and normal sized caruncles (PaO2 20.7 plus or minus 1.2 mmHg; packed cell volume 35.2 plus or minus 0.7%) than in the controls (PaO2 23.2 plus or minus 0.7 mmHg; packed cell volume 29.8 plus or minus 0.7%). Plasma concentrations of glucose (0.65 plus or minus 0.12 micromol/ml), lactate (0.9 plus or minus 0.1 micromol/ml) and pyruvate (0.08 plus or minus 0.025 micromol/ml) were lower in small-caruncle fetuses than in the control fetuses (glucose 1.05 plus or minus 0.06 micromol/ml, lactate 1.83 plus or minus 0.7 micromol/ml, pyruvate 0.21 plus or minus 0.06 micromol/ml). The corresponding values for the normal-sized-caruncle fetuses were glucose 0.71 plus or minus 0.12, lactate 1.18 plus or minus 0.7 and pyruvate 0.12 plus or minus 0.03 micromol/ml. The plasma concentration of alanine in the small-caruncle-fetuses (0.25 plus or minus 0.09 micromol/ml) was higher than in the normal-sized-caruncle (0.073 plus or minus 0.009 micromol/ml) or control fetuses (0.12 plus or minus 0.013 micromol/ml). The results indicate that fetal growth retardation due to restriction of placental growth after removal of endometrial caruncles is associated with chronic hypoxaemia, polycythaemia and hypoglycaemia. The restriction of nutrient supply probably accounts for the altered pattern of fetal growth but the relative importance of the changes observed remains uncertain.