This investigation aimed to establish noninvasive methods for endocrine monitoring of estrous cycles and pregnancy in the Indian rhinoceros. Fecal samples were collected 1-3 times per week from nonpregnant and pregnant captive females (n = 7). Enzyme immunoassays for fecal progesterone, androgen, and estrogen metabolites, respectively, were tested for their ability to determine follicular and luteal phases and to characterize endocrine profiles during pregnancy. Antibodies used were raised against pregnanediol (20 alpha-OH-pregnanes), 20-oxo-pregnanes, epiandrosterone (17-oxo-androstanes), and total estrogens. Androgens and estrogens were found to be reliable indicators of the follicular phase, whereas 20 alpha-OH- and 20-oxo-pregnanes were reliable indicators of luteal function. Progesterone metabolites were also reliable indicators of pregnancy, whereas 17-oxo-androstanes and estrogens were basal throughout gestation. Estrous cycles were regular throughout the year, with an average cycle length of 43.4 +/- 1.5 (n = 27) days; the length of the follicular phase, as indicated by elevated estrogen levels, was 15.9 +/- 1.0 days, whereas the luteal phase, as indicated by elevated 20-oxo-pregnane levels, was 19.1 +/- 0.4 days. Fecal pregnane values were already increasing while follicular estrogen values were still decreasing. The length of the diestrus, indicated by basal steroid levels between declining 20-oxo-pregnanes and subsequently increasing estrogens, was 11.4 +/- 1.2 days. Pregnane levels increased from the 3rd month of gestation onward and levels exceeded luteal phase concentrations approximately 10 times by the 7th month of gestation onward. HPLC separation of immunoreactive fecal metabolites indicated the presence of estrone, estradiol-17beta, and several 17-oxo-androstanes, 20 alpha-OH-pregnanes, and 20-oxo-pregnanes. Concentrations of a peak with an elution profile similar to that of pregnanediol increased as pregnancy progressed. Postpartum fecal estrogen and 17-oxo-androstane concentrations in one animal indicated follicular development comparable to the follicular phase of the estrous cycle, but this was not followed by a subsequent luteal phase. In conclusion, estrous cycle and pregnancy in Indian rhinoceroses can be monitored using fecal steroid analysis. Pregnane metabolites were reliable indicators of the corpus luteum and pregnancy, whereas fecal 17-oxo-androstanes and estrogens were indicators of the follicular phase.