Abstract Calbindin-D 28K (CALB) in the medial basal hypothalamic (MBH) and preoptic area (POA) of male and female fetuses from pregnant rats fed different phytoestrogens diets during gestation was examined by Western analysis. In animals fed a phytoestrogen containing diet (Phyto-200), males displayed significantly higher CALB levels compared to females. Whereas, in animals fed a phytoestrogen-free diet (Phyto-free), females exhibited significantly higher CALB levels compared to Phyto-200 female values. The present data have far reaching implications where phytoestrogen content in diets apparently influence MBH–POA CALB levels prenatally. The altered CALB levels may in turn modify sexually dimorphic brain structures during neuronal development by buffering Ca 2+ that is associated with programmed cell death.