Check out this article: http://indesignsecrets.com/a-new-workaround-for-that-pesky-background-export-issue.php
Script mentioned in the article can be found here: http://tomaxxi.com/downloads/
Hope that helps.
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Have you updated to 7.0.4 (presuming you are talking about CS5)? There are some bug fixes for background PDF export that solve many, but perhaps not all, reported issues with background export.
Also, if you just want to see the progress, you can open the Background Tasks panel.
Thanks Marijan, this worked a treat!!
You are welcome!
Glad it worked for you!