The purpose of this study was to reevaluate catecholamine distribution in fetal and maternal compartments during late gestation in the rat. Fetal and maternal plasma and amniotic fluid were collected from anesthetized rats on consecutive days from day 17 to day 22, the day of parturition. The fluid was analyzed for dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-dopa), dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine by radioenzymatic assays. Amniotic fluid volume was determined by a direct weighing method. l-Dopa concentrations constituted approximately 50% of total fetal plasma catecholamines and were significantly higher in fetal than in maternal circulation. Dopamine concentrations in fetal plasma were tenfold lower than those of l-dopa but were also significantly higher in fetal than in maternal plasma; norepinephrine levels were similar in both. Maternal plasma epinephrine levels remained relatively constant, whereas fetal epinephrine levels increased fiftyfold from day 17 to day 22. l-Dopa concentrations in the amniotic fluid were tenfold higher than those of dopamine, and the concentrations of both increased markedly during the last 2 days of gestation. However, this apparent rise could be attributed to the concomitant fivefold reduction in the amniotic fluid volume observed at this time. It is concluded that l-dopa is the predominant catecholamine in both the fetal plasma and the amniotic fluid during late gestation in the rat. At the present time, neither the source nor the possible physiologic functions of l-dopa during fetal life are known.