Thirty-week-old female bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus), maintained at 26 + 1?C, were provided diets containing 0,25, or 100 ppm parathion ad libitum. After 10 days, birds were exposed to mild cold (6 + 1?C) for 4,8, 12, 24, or 48 hr. Brain acetylcholinesterase activity was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner in birds receiving 25 and 100 ppm parathion. Body weight, egg production, and plasma luteinizing hormone and progesterone concentrations were reduced in birds receiving 100 ppm parathion compared with other groups. Cold exposure did not alter plasma corticosterone levels in the 0- and 25-ppm parathion groups, but a two- to five fold elevation of plasma corticosterone was observed in birds fed 100 ppm parathion. These findings indicate that (i) short-term ingestion of parathion can impair reproduction possibly by altering gonadotropin or steroid secretion, and (ii) tolerance to cold may be reduced following ingestion of this organophosphate.