A standardized procedure was developed for conducting the mouse bioassay for detecting estrogenic activity in rodent diets. Studies were conducted with CD-1 mice to determine the appropriate weaning age and length of bioassay period. Uterine growth curves were generated from mice weaned at 15 days of age and fed a negative control diet until 28 days of age. These mice showed slow regular increases in uterine weights from 15 22 days of age followed by rapid uterine growth in some mice from 24 to 28 days of age. Estrogenic bioassays using female mice weaned at 15 days of age and fed the positive control diets containing 4 or 6 ppb diethylstilbestrol (DES) demonstrated significant (P less than 0.05) increases in uterine weight and in uterus to body weight (U:BW) ratios over those of mice fed the negative control diet without DES for 5, 7 or 9 days after weaning. In contrast, mice weaned at 17 days of age showed significant (P less than 0.05) increases in uterine weight and in U:BW ratios only at 5 days after weaning. Six ppb DES was required in the positive control diet to produce a 1.5 fold increase in the U:BW ratio over those of mice fed the negative control diet. It was concluded that mice should be weaned at 15 days of age and that the bioassay period should be terminated at 7 days, when the mice are 22 days old, for best reproducible results. The criteria for a valid bioassay should include the demonstration of a significant statistical increase in the U:BW ratios of mice fed the DES positive diet over those of mice fed the negative control diet.