We have previously shown that the locus coeruleus (LC) is essential for triggering surges of LH. Since LC neurons are responsive to estradiol, which induces progesterone receptor (PR) expression, this study aimed to investigate whether LC neurons express the α-estradiol receptor (αER) and PR as well as comparing such responses to that observed in the preoptic area (POA). Female rats were perfused at 10, 14 and 16 h on each day of the estrous cycle, and a blood sample was collected for estradiol, progesterone and LH measurements. αER- and PR immunoreactive (ir) neurons were detected in POA and LC by immunocytochemistry (ICC). Higher plasma estradiol levels were observed on the day of proestrus, when a smaller number of αER-ir POA neurons were detected. An increase in the number of αER-ir neurons were observed at 16 h of proestrus and estrus. The number of PR-ir neurons increased in POA only at 16 h of proestrus, and remained unchanged during all other days and times. The profile of αER-ir and PR-ir neurons in LC changed over the estrous cycle, with a lower expression on metestrus morning and reaching a peak on diestrus afternoon before declining on the day of proestrus. However, on estrus afternoon, αER-ir neurons increased, while PR-ir neurons decreased which may be related to the prolactin surge of estrus. These data show that LC neurons express αER and PR and seem to be more sensitive to variations in estradiol than POA. Also, the fluctuation in αER and PR observed for LC neurons seems to accompany the hormonal events that occur during the estrous cycle. This profile of αER and PR expression might be related to the ability of estradiol and progesterone in regulating the activity of LC neurons, which could be associated to the control mechanisms of LH and prolactin release.