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The literature relating to the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on offspring activity is reviewed. It is concluded that if animals are exposed in utero to doses of alcohol greater than 6-7 g/kg per day and are tested prior to 70 days of age, they exhibit an increase in activity in comparison with control offspring. This overactivity appears to result from a lack of response inhibition. It is hypothesized that this is due to a retardation of the development of the cholingeric and/or serotonergic inhibitory systems in the forebrain and suggestions are made as to how this hypothesis could be tested by both behavioural and pharmacological means. Knowledge of the activity changes is then employed to bring order to the literature on the effects of intrauterine alcohol exposure on offspring learning ability. It is concluded that if animals are exposed in utero to doses of alcohol greater than 6-7 g/kg per day and tested prior to 70 days of age their performance on various learning tasks is confounded by their overactivity. If they are tested after this age then their performance on certain learning tasks is impaired. Finally, the similarities between the animal data and reports in the human literature are noted.