Abstract Previous studies demonstrated a direct action of interleukin-1 (IL-1) on release of hormones from rat anterior pituitary cells in monolayer culture. To rule out any possibility of a paracrine effect from the elevated hormones in the static monolayer system, and to examine further the dynamics of hormone release elicited by IL-1, studies were conducted with rat anterior pituitary tissue in a computer-controlled automated perifusion system. In experiments performed on the same day as sacrifice, IL-1 stimulated the release of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), luteinizing hormone (LH), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) in a dose-related manner. Peak levels were achieved within 6 minutes of exposure to IL-1. However, PRL was not increased over the baseline fluctuations when pituitaries were perifused with IL-1 after 72 hours of incubation. Hormone release did not appear to undergo desensitization after multiple short pulses of IL-1. Heat-denatured IL-1 had no effect on hormone release. The rapid response suggests that IL-1 acts acutely to release preformed hormone stores.