The pathogenic properties of a skin isolate of porcine parvovirus (PPV), designated Kresse isolate, were compared with NADL-8 isolate, a prototype isolate of PPV, by in utero inoculation of mid-term and late-term gestation swine fetuses. Fetuses from pregnant sows of mid-gestation were inoculated with either NADL-8 or Kresse virus. Both isolates were highly pathogenic to mid-gestation fetuses. In contrast, dramatic differences in pathogenicity between these 2 isolates were observed in fetuses inoculated late in gestation. Such fetuses from each of 4 sows were inoculated with NADL-8 or Kresse virus isolate and sacrificed at 10, 18, 21, or 23 days postinoculation (PI). NADL-8 inoculated fetuses were grossly normal. The pathogenic effects of Kresse isolate were evident by gross pathology in fetuses collected at 18, 21, and 23 days PI, but not at 10 days PI. Hemagglutination (HA) and fluorescent antibody (FA) methods were used to identify virus in various tissues of late-gestation fetuses collected at 10 and 21 days PI. At 10 days PI, HA antigens were detected only in livers of NADL-8-inoculated fetuses, but in all tissues examined of Kresse-inoculated fetuses, including the brain. PPV specific fluorescence was demonstrated in tissues of fetuses inoculated with NADL-8 and Kresse virus. The major difference was that virus antigen was found in the brains of fetuses inoculated with Kresse virus, but not in NADL-8 infected fetuses. At 21 days PI, HA antigen was not detected in any of the tissues of fetuses inoculated with NADL-8 virus, with PPV specific fluorescence by FA being found only in the kidney. However, fetuses inoculated with Kresse virus displayed HA antigen in liver and PPV-specific fluorescence in all tissues tested including the brain. Both isolates induced similar antibody responses, 1:128 to 1:256 at 10 days and 1:512 to 1:1024 at 21 days PI. In addition, immunoglobulin G (IgG) deposits were demonstrated in kidneys and skin of fetuses inoculated with Kresse virus and IgM in brain, but not in tissues from fetuses inoculated with NADL-8 virus.