In mammals, polyamines are essential for the maintenance of cell growth. Although early studies reported the highest values of mammalian ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity, a key enzyme in polyamine biosynthesis, in rodent placenta, the role of this enzyme in the second half of rodent pregnancy is still controversial. In order to get new insights on polyamine metabolism during this period of pregnancy, we studied polyamine levels, ODC expression and activity and transcript profile of different polyamine-related genes in mouse placenta, fetus and yolk sac. Results indicated that ODC activity and protein levels were higher in placenta than in fetus and yolk sac, especially in the labyrinth, although no correlation between ODC activity and polyamine levels were observed. The half-life of placental ODC ( approximately 190 min) was also higher than the fetal one ( approximately 24 min). Messenger RNAs of all biosynthetic and retroconversion enzymes of polyamine metabolism were present in the three gestational compartments analyzed, as well as those of antizymes 1 and 2 and antizyme inhibitor 1. However, no expression of antizyme 3 and antizyme inhibitor 2 was detected. The catabolic enzyme diamine oxidase was expressed only in the maternal part of placenta but not in the fetal part or in the fetus. The expansion of polyamine pools in the fetus was markedly higher than in placenta, in spite of its lower biosynthetic activity. Our results suggest that the elevated polyamine biosynthetic activity of mouse placenta is required to satisfy the high demand of polyamines required by the growing fetus, during the later period of pregnancy.