Pregnant Swiss Webster mice were given a liquid diet with ethanol (EtOH) or isocaloric amounts of maltose dextrin on gestation day (GD) 0 through 18. On GD 18, maternal blood samples were obtained. Fetuses were then removed and fetal brains were prepared for light microscopy. Fetal weight was reduced in the EtOH-exposed group. The ratio of midbrain cross sectional area to cerebral aqueduct was reduced in the ethanol group, while the density of neuronal nuclear population in both the dense outer layer (DS) and sparse inner layer (SS) of the developing superior colliculus was increased. Mean nuclear volume was decreased in the SS.