Oxytocin has been identified in both non-human primate and human corpora lutea of the menstrual cycle by RIA, immunocytochemistry and HPLC. Evidence for the transcription of the oxytocin gene in this tissue using PCR is available. Oxytocin receptors have been characterized by biochemical procedures. However, there is some debate as to whether the oxytocin identified in these tissues is biologically active and has a role in luteal function. In this study we have demonstrated that oxytocin isolated by gel chromatography of tissue extracts from the baboon and the human corpus luteum is biologically active as determined in a rat uterine bioassay. Since both oxytocin and its receptors are present in these tissues, it is suggested that oxytocin in the human and non-human primate corpora lutea has a functional role.