1. Emotional inhibition of the milk-ejection reflex in rabbits is described.
2. Injection of 5–50 μg adrenaline intravenously into does before nursing interfered with milk ejection, as shown by the failure of the young to withdraw more than three-quarters of the normal yield of milk. Injection of 150 mU (=milliunits) 'Pitocin' immediately after the adrenaline did not restore normal milk ejection.
3. Intravenous injection of 5 μg adrenaline suppressed the milk-ejection response to 50 mU posterior pituitary extract in anaesthetized rabbits with cannulated teats, provided the injection of adrenaline preceded that of the posterior pituitary extract. The inhibitory effect had not entirely disappeared in 2 min. 50μg adrenaline prevented the occurrence of milk ejection for 3½ min.
4. Intravenous doses of 5 μg adrenaline, but not smaller amounts, inhibited the milk-ejection response to electrical stimulation of the supraoptico-hypophysial tract, if injected before stimulation or during the latent period of the response. When injected after the commencement of milk ejection 5 μg adrenaline was without effect, but 50 μg abolished the response.
5. Electrical stimulation of the posterior hypothalamus produced inhibition of the milk-ejection response to injected oxytocic extract, together with pupillary dilatation and exophthalmos. The inhibition closely resembled that resulting from injection of adrenaline.
6. It is concluded that one mechanism involved in the emotional inhibition of milk ejection is an activation of the sympathetico-adrenal system, resulting in antagonism of the action of the neurohypophysial milk-ejection hormone on the contraction process within the mammary gland.