Progesterone concentrations in the peripheral plasma of goats were measured by a protein-binding assay. The mean concentration was extremely low on the day of oestrus (0·2 ng/ml) and was not significantly different from that found in anoestrous or ovariectomized animals. The concentration increased to a maximum of 4 ng/ml on about day 10 of the 21-day cycle, and decreased rapidly during the last 3 days of the cycle.
Plasma progesterone concentration during early pregnancy (2·5–3·5 ng/ml) was similar to the luteal phase value and remained steady from day 8 to day 60. Between days 60 and 70 there was a secondary increase in progesterone concentration which was maintained at this increased level (4·5–5·5 ng/ml) until just before parturition. In twin-bearing animals, the secondary increase was greater. Progesterone concentration decreased rapidly during the 1–2 days preceding parturition, but the concentration was still quite high on the day of parturition (1·25 ng/ml).
The progesterone concentration in peripheral plasma was markedly increased during anaesthesia and the operation. After bilateral ovariectomy of the pregnant goat, peripheral progesterone concentration fell rapidly from 9 to 2·5 ng/ml during the first ½ h and then more slowly during the next 5–6 h. The animals aborted 36–48 h later.
A consistent positive arterio—venous difference for progesterone was observed across the pregnant uterus in two unanaesthetized goats. These results indicate that the ovary is the main site of progesterone production in the pregnant goat and that production by the placenta is small and unlikely to influence the level of this hormone in the maternal circulation.