The half-lives of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMDC) have been studied in fetuses and placentas from 18-day-pregnant rats. While the turnover of fetal and placental SAMDC were slightly different (t1/2 = 38 and 75 min, respectively) the half-lives of fetal and placental ODC differed markedly. T1/2 of fetal ODC was 15 min, similar to other mammalian ODCs, but placental ODC showed a relatively high half-life, about 160 min. According to that, placental ODC was more resistant than the fetal enzyme to in vivo hyperthermic treatment (40 degrees C, 1 h). Our results suggest that the degradative mechanisms for ODC in rat placenta could be regulated differently to those in other mammalian tissues.