The hypothesis tested was that the effects of early experiences are asymmetrically distributed in the two brain hemispheres. Litters were either handled or not handled between birth and weaning, and the weanlings were reared in either laboratory cages or enriched environments between 21 and 50 days. When approximately 135 days old, animals within each of the four treatment groups had a right neocortical ablation, a left neocortical ablation, a sham operation, or no surgery. About 1 month later, all animals were given the open-field test for emotionality and exploratory behavior. Ablating either the right or left neocortex increased the activity scores of nonhandled controls, but there was no evidence of lateralization. However, the groups handled in infancy did show lateralization. Ablating the left brain did not significantly increase activity, but ablating the right brain caused extreme scores: handled rats without enrichment experience were the most active, and handled rats also placed into the enriched environment had near-zero scores in the open field.