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Chloral hydrate is widely used as a sedative in pediatric medicine and is a by-product of water chlorination and a metabolic intermediate in the biotransformation of trichloroethylene. Chloral hydrate and its major metabolite, trichloroacetic acid, induce liver tumors in B6C3F1 mice, a strain that can exhibit high rates of background liver tumor incidence, which is associated with increased body weight. This report describes the influence of diet and body weight on the acute toxicity, hepatic enzyme response, and toxickinetics of chloral hydrate as part of a larger study investigating the carcinogenicity of chloral hydrate in ad libitum-fed and dietary controlled mice. Dietary control involves moderate food restriction to maintain the test animals at an idealized body weight. Mice were dosed with chloral hydrate at 0, 50, 100, 250, 500, and 1000 mg/kg daily, 5 days/week, by aqueous gavage for 2 weekly dosing cycles. Three diet groups were used: ad libitum, dietary control, and 40% caloric restriction. Both dietary control and caloric restriction slightly reduced acute toxicity of high doses of chloral hydrate and potentiated the induction of hepatic enzymes associated with peroxisome proliferation. Chloral hydrate toxicokinetics were investigated using blood samples obtained by sequential tail clipping and a microscale gas chromatography technique. It was rapidly cleared from serum within 3 h of dosing. Trichloroacetate was the major metabolite in serum in all three diet groups. Although the area under the curve values for serum trichloroacetate were slightly greater in the dietary controlled and calorically restricted groups than in the ad libitum-fed groups, this increase did not appear to completely account for the potentiation of hepatic enzyme induction by dietary restriction.