Recent studies showed that a brief interruption of dopamine (DA) action markedly increased the thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)-stimulated prolactin (PRL) release. It is thus of interest to delineate whether the estrogen-induced afternoon PRL surge involves the same mechanism. Long-term ovariectomized rats pretreated with polyestradiol phosphate (PEP, 0.1 mg/rat s.c.) for 6 days were used in this study. They also received either P-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA, 250 mg/kg i.p.) or ketanserin (Ket, 10 mg/kg i.p.), two serotonergic drugs known to inhibit the estrogen-induced afternoon PRL surge. Then the animals were either treated with a DA antagonist, domperidone (Domp, 0.01 mg/rat i.v.), or vehicle at 16.00 h on the sampling day. Ten minutes later, the ones receiving Domp were injected with a DA agonist, 2-bromo-α-ergocryptine (CB154, 0.5 mg/rat i.v.), followed 50 min later by the administration of TRH (1 µg/rat i.v.). Plasma samples taken through indwelling intraatrial catheters were assayed for PRL by radioimmunoassay. The estrogen-induced afternoon PRL surges were completely blocked in both PCPA- and Ket-treated animals. A significant PRL surge with similar amplitude, however, was induced by either Domp or TRH, although pretreatment with Domp did not cause any potentiating effect on the action of TRH. On the other hand, Domp induced only a small rise of PRL secretion and TRH was totally ineffective in rats untreated with PEP. It is concluded that both DA antagonism and TRH stimulation can induce significant PRL release in the afternoon of estrogen-treated, serotonin-blocked rats. Our data suggest that the dopaminer-gic tone is intact and functional in animals whose endogenous PRL surges were blocked by serotonergic drugs, while the signal of TRH, or other PRL-releasing factors, may be missing.