Behavioral experiments tested the idea that the substance P (SP) innervation of the midbrain central gray (MCG) may be involved in the hormonal induction of sexual receptivity in female rats. SP, a SP antiserum or a reported SP antagonist were injected bilaterally into the MCG in ovariectomized, estrogen-treated females, and the lordosis response was recorded at repeated intervals. In the first experiment, three doses of SP (50, 500 and 1,000 ng/cannula), a single dose of LHRH (50 ng/cannula) or vehicle were given to separate groups of females. All three doses of SP produced a rapid and long-lasting (3 h) increase in lordosis scores in moderately receptive females in tests with either manual stimulation or male rats. This facilitation was similar in latency, magnitude and duration to that produced by LHRH. In the second experiment, the basic findings of experiment 1 were replicated using blind testing. As no dose-response relation was established in experiment 1, a lower dose of SP (10 ng/cannula) was used in addition to doses of 50 and 500 ng/cannula also used in experiment 1. All three doses produced similar long-lasting increases in lordosis scores as in experiment 1. MCG injections of SP also increased lordosis scores in a second series of tests using manual stimulation alone. This demonstrates that the SP-induced facilitation does not depend on an interaction between the injections and stimuli delivered only by the male rat, eg., vaginal stimuli or ultrasonic calls. The question of the importance of endogenous SP for receptivity was examined in experiment 2 using MCG injections of a SP antiserum or the SP analogue, (D-Pro<sup>2</sup>, D-Trp<sup>7,9</sup>)-SP, which has been reported to block the excitation of locus coeruleus neurons by SP. The antiserum significantly reduced the group lordosis scores, while the putative antagonist did not. In conclusion, our data support the idea that the SP neurons which innervate the MCG form part of the circuitry controlling the lordosis response.