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openldap core dumping under load

Can anyone help with this ?
I'm running openldap 2.1.16 with a  bdb db-4.1.25 backend. I have a sendmail server that queries ldap for its aliases.
During times of high mail volume, ldap core dumps.  Over a period of a couple of minutes i can watch slapd consume all system memory and then crash. I can simulate this quite easily with a looping perl script sending a couple of thousand messages. 
I have configured the following indexes in an attempt to improve the performance.
index   objectClass     eq
index   cn              pres,eq
index   uid              pres,eq
index   sendmailMTAAliasGrouping     pres,eq
index   sendmailMTAHost     pres,eq
index   sendmailMTAKey     pres,eq
index   sendmailMTAAliasValue    pres,eq
The ldap box is running FreeBSD 4.7 with a PII 350 and 512mb of ram.
The sendmail server is a p4 2.4.
Is it possible that the sendmail server is too grunty in comparison to the ldap server ?