WATCH: Trump vs Clinton- He calls her a devil, she says he abuses women
Their debate, the second of three before the Nov. 8 vote, was remarkable for the brutal nature of the exchanges between Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, and Clinton, his Democratic rival.
He called her a "devil" who repeatedly lies, someone with tremendous hate in her heart. She called him an abuser of women.
There was a palpable sense of mutual contempt as they stood on stage, refusing to shake hands at the start. Moderators Anderson Cooper of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC both seemed at points to be grimly watching two trains collide.
Through it all, Trump, 70, and Clinton, 68, both landed punches as they clashed over taxes, healthcare, U.S. policy in the Syria civil war and Clinton's comments that half of Trump's supporters belonged in a "basket of deplorables."
Trump took the stage in St. Louis, Missouri, at the most perilous time of his 16-month-old candidacy.
A newly uncovered 2005 video of him making vulgar remarks about women prompted a stampede of Republican politicians to abandon him, deepened fissures with establishment party figures, and seemed to many in the party to put his already uphill battle to win the White House even farther out of reach.
CLINTON 57 PCT, TRUMP 34 PCT
A CNN/ORC snap poll of debate watchers found that 57 percent thought Clinton won the encounter, versus 34 percent for Trump. Asian shares crept higher and the Mexican peso climbed on Monday as markets saw less chance of a Trump victory.
Even after the debate, party leaders remained concerned that Trump had not shown enough contrition over the sexually aggressive remarks to win over independents and women voters who could decide the election.
He again described the comments as "locker-room talk" and said he had never kissed or groped women without their permission, despite having bragged about doing so on the video which emerged on Friday.
President Bill Clinton had done worse to women, Trump said in one of several forceful attacks that may reinforce his popularity with his core supporters who detest the Democratic nominee.