Endogenous and exogenous chemical signals have evolved as a means for organisms to respond to physical or biological stimuli in the environment. Sensitivity to these signals can make organisms vulnerable to inadvertent signals from xenobiotics. In this review we discuss how various chemicals can interact with steroid-like signaling pathways, especially estrogen. Numerous compounds have estrogenic activity, including steroids, phytoestrogens, and synthetic chemicals. We compare bioavailability, metabolism, interaction with receptors, and interaction with cell-signaling pathways among these three structurally diverse groups in order to understand how these chemicals influence physiological responses. Based on their mechanisms of action, chemical steroid mimics could plausibly be associated with recent adverse health trends in humans and animals.