Pentachlorophenol (PCP) is widely used to control termites and protect wood from fungal-rot and wood-boring insects, and is often detected in the aquatic environment. Few studies have evaluated PCP as an environmental endocrine disruptor. In the present work, Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) was exposed to PCP for 28 days (F0 generation) with subsequent measurements of vitellogenin (VTG), hepatic 7-ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD), and reproductive endpoints. Plasma VTG significantly increased in male fish treated with PCP concentrations lower than 200 microg/l and decreased in male and female animals exposed to 200 microg/l. Hepatic EROD from female fish increased when PCP exposure concentrations exceeded 20 microg/l, but decreased in the 200 microg/l PCP treatment group. Fecundity and mean fertility of female medaka decreased significantly in the second and third week following exposure concentrations greater than 100 microg/l, and testis-ova of male medaka was observed at PCP concentrations greater than 50 microg/l. Histological lesions of liver and kidney occurred when exposure concentrations exceeded 50 microg/l. In F1 generations, the hatching rates and time to hatch of offspring were significantly affected in fish exposed to 200 microg/l. These results indicated that PCP exposure caused responses consistent with estrogen and aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation as well as reproductive impairment at environmentally relevant concentrations.