Abstract Varying doses of cholecystokinin (CCK) dissolved in 2 μl of 0.9% NaCl or 2 μl of saline alone were injected into the third ventricle of conscious ovariactomized (OVX) rats bearing 3rd ventricular cannulae. Plasma luteinizing hormone (LH), prolactin (PRL), growth hormone (GH), thyrotropin (TSH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels were measured by RIA in jugular blood samples drawn through an indwelling silastic cannula. Control injections of saline i.v. or into the 3rd ventricle did not modify plasma hormone levels. Intraventricular injections of 4, 40 and 500 ng CCK produced a significant suppression of plasma LH within 5 min of injection. Injection of 4 or 500 ng doses of CCK has no effect on plasma PRL levels, but injection of the 40 ng dose produced a significant elevation of plasma PRL within 15 min. Plasma GH levels increased significantly within 15 min of the 3rd ventricular injection of each dose of CCK. The 40 ng dose of CCK caused a progressive reduction of plasma TSH which was significant by 15 min and lasted through the 60 min of experimentation. The highest dose of 500 ng reduced plasma TSH levels within 5 min. Plasma FSH was not altered by any dose of CCK. Intravenous injection of CCK caused a dose-related increase in plasma prolactin levels within 5 min, but only the highest dose of 1000 ng produced a significant decrease in plasma LH. No significant changes in GH, TSH or FSH levels were observed after i.v. injection of CCK. In vitro incubation of hemipituitaries from male rats with doses of CCK ranging from 10 ng to 5 μg had no effect on pituitary hormone release into the medium. The results indicate that CCK can alter pituitary hormone release via a hypothalamic action and suggest that it may act as t transmitter or modulator of neuronal activity controlling the release of hypothalamic releasing and/or inhibiting hormones.