Administration of 4 mg of the antisteroid RU486 over 8 consecutive days to adult male rats dissociated in vivo and in vitro gonadotrophin secretion, increasing FSH and decreasing LH secretion. In subsequent experiments we evaluated the involvement of testicular or adrenal secretory products, as well as hypothalamic LHRH, in the effects of 4 consecutive days of RU486 treatment on the secretion of gonadotrophins. The first day of RU486 injection was designated day 1, subsequent days being numbered consecutively. Groups of rats injected with oil (0.2 ml) or RU486 (4 mg) were: (i) injected s.c. from day 1 to day 4 with the antiandrogen flutamide (10 mg/kg); (ii) bilateral orchidectomized (ORCH) on day 1; and (iii) bilateral adrenalectomized (ADX) on day 1. Controls were given flutamide vehicle or were sham operated. To ascertain whether the secretion of LHRH is involved in the effects of RU486 on gonadotrophin secretion, we measured the LHRH secretion into the pituitary stalk blood vessels at 1100 h on day 5 in oil- or RU486-treated rats. Additional oil- and RU486-treated rats were injected i.p. with 100 ng LHRH at 1000 h on day 5, or s.c. with 1 mg LHRH antagonist (LHRH-ANT) at 1000 h on days 2 and 4. Controls were given saline. All animals were decapitated at 1100 h on day 5, trunk blood collected and serum stored frozen until FSH, LH and testosterone assays.%While ADX had no effect on FSH and LH secretion in either oil- or RU486-treated rats, the removal of androgen negative feedback with flutamide treatment or by ORCH substantially increased serum levels of FSH and LH in both oil- and RU486-treated rats, and thus annulled the effects of RU486. No differences in pituitary stalk plasma LHRH concentrations were found between oil- and RU486-treated rats. Injection of LHRH increased serum FSH and LH concentrations in oil-treated rats but only, and to a lesser extent, LH concentrations in RU486-treated rats. Treatment with LHRH-ANT decreased serum concentrations of FSH and LH in both oil- and RU486-treated rats. These results suggest that RU486 inhibited LHRH-stimulated LH secretion at the pituitary level, and that FSH secretion increased in response to a reduction in the negative feedback of androgen.