Thyroid status was assessed in adult female rhesus monkey breeders at the California National Primate Research Center at the beginning of the breeding season. The 95% confidence intervals for thyrotropin (TSH), thyroxine (T(4)) and triiodothyronine (T(3)) (n = 66-80) were similar to those previously reported in smaller samples of macaque monkeys. Based on human criteria, 10 of 80 monkeys (12%) were hypothyroid (TSH > 2.01 mu lU/mL). Because hypothyroxinaemia can be a risk factor in pregnancy, T(4) status was compared with past breeding history, breeding outcome for that season and general health records in a subset of 42 breeders. Age, weight and parity did not differ between monkeys in the lowest T(4) quartile as compared with those in the upper three quartiles. However, T(4) concentrations were significantly associated with the number of missed menstrual cycles during the previous breeding season. In additional work, three healthy lactating rhesus monkeys were given three different doses of environmental contaminant and thyroid iodine uptake inhibitor, ammonium perchlorate (0.006, 0.34, 12.8 mg/kg/day, respectively) in food for two weeks. Thyroid status variables (TSH, T(4), T(3), thyroid radioactive iodine uptake) were then measured. In the monkey receiving the highest perchlorate dose, iodine uptake was suppressed relative to baseline. The study shows the availability of tools to study thyroid status in rhesus monkeys, the variability of thyroid status in the breeder colony and the potential ability of environmental factors to influence thyroid status.