Ventricular septal defects (VSDs) are common congenital abnormalities which have been reported to be associated with maternal fever and various environmental factors. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of prenatal exposure to cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors on heart defects. A retrospective statistical analysis was performed using data collected in our laboratory during various teratological studies carried out on albino CRL:(WI)WUBR Wistar strain rats from 1997 to 2004. The observations were compared with concurrent and historic control data, as well as findings from other developmental toxicological studies with selective and nonselective COX-2 inhibitors. Despite the lack of significant differences in the frequency of VSDs between drug-exposed and control groups, statistical analysis by the two-sided Mantel-Haenszel test and historical control data showed a higher incidence of heart defects in offspring exposed to nonselective COX inhibitors (30.06/10,000). Unlike other specific inhibitors, aspirin (46.26/10,000) and ibuprofen (106.95/10,000) significantly increased the incidence of the VSD when compared with various control groups (5.38-19.72/10,000). No significant differences in length or weight were detected between fetuses exposed to COX inhibitors and born with VSD and non-malformed offsprings. However, a statistically significant increase of fetal body length and decrease of body mass index were found in fetuses exposed to COX inhibitors when compared with untreated control. We conclude that prenatal exposure to COX inhibitors, especially aspirin and ibuprofen, increased the incidence of VSDs in rat offspring but was not related to fetal growth retardation.