In order to detect lesions of a spongiform encephalopathy and/or accumulation of the protease resistant prion protein (PrPres), 182 offspring of cows affected with BSE were examined neuropathological and immunohistochemically. Neither spongiform encephalopathy nor PrPres accumulation were found. In seven animals other neuropathological lesions were seen, significant ones in three. Because of the small risk of exposure to contaminated feed in these animals, nearly all of which were born after the introduction of the protein feed ban for ruminants, the occurrence of spongiform encephalopathy in this series of BSE offspring would be suggestive of maternal transmission. However, the value of the study in this respect is quite limited. Only half of the animals were old enough to develop clinical and pathological evidence of the disease. If a maternal effect on the risk for the offspring is only to be expected during the last 6 months of the incubation of the dam as suggested by British investigations, only few animals in this study would fulfil the requirement of having been born during this critical period. Since it cannot be entirely excluded that the BSE agent transiently invades extraneural tissues in the early stages of infection, the above mentioned restriction to the final 6 months of the incubation time of the dam would not necessarily be applicable to all situations. We concluded that this study supports previous observations according to which maternal transmission of BSE is at best a rare event.