The aim of this study was to examine the changes in collagen metabolism that occur during pregnancy and parturition and upon relaxin administration to the rat pubic symphysial interpubic tissue. Pubic symphyses were collected from non-pregnant, and intact and ovariectomised pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats at days 15, 18 and 21 of pregnancy as well as during and after delivery, and analysed for collagen content and solubility. SDS-PAGE was used to determine collagen composition. During pregnancy and particularly during birth, there was a significant reduction in both the tissue wet (57 ± 3%) and dry (43 ± 3%) weight (n=7), which coincided with a significant increase in water content (to 80%) and was attributed to a significant (P<0.05) reduction in overall tissue collagen content (by 47 ± 2%). This resulted in both soluble (10%) and insoluble (90%) collagen levels being reduced, but gel electrophoresis demonstrated the presence of types I, II and V collagen in all samples. Western, blot analysis confirmed the presence of type II collagen throughout pregnancy, confirming that the rat pubic symphysis remained a fibrocartilaginous tissue throughout gestation. In the absence of the ovaries and hence relaxin, tissue collagen content and solubility were not significantly different from control measurements. However, tissues of ovariectomised animals treated with oestrogen and progesterone (pellets) and relaxin (injection) contained collagen levels that mimicked those of late pregnancy and parturition. These results suggest that relaxin plays an important role in regulating collagen catabolism during gestation in the rat.