The effect of Freund's adjuvant administration on 24-hour changes of plasma prolactin, growth hormone (GH), thyrotropin (TSH), insulin, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone were studied in young (2 months) and aged (18 months) male Wistar rats. Rats were injected s.c. with Freund's adjuvant or adjuvant's vehicle and, 18 days later, they were killed at 6 different time intervals throughout a 24-hour cycle to measure circulating hormone levels by specific RIAs. Young rats receiving adjuvant's vehicle exhibited significant time-of-day-dependent variations in plasma TSH, LH and testosterone, with maximal levels at 1300 h, 0100 h and 1700 h, respectively. Prolactin and insulin levels, analyzed globally in a factorial ANOVA, showed significant time-of-day changes with maximal levels at 1300 - 1700 h and 2100 h, respectively. The daily rhythms in plasma LH and testosterone found in young rats were not longer observed in Freund's adjuvant-injected rats, while as far as TSH, a second peak was observed at 0100 h after Freund's adjuvant administration. Twenty-four hour rhythms in circulating TSH, LH and testosterone were blunted in old rats receiving either Freund's adjuvant or its vehicle. Aged rats exhibited significantly higher circulating levels of prolactin, and lower levels of GH, TSH, FSH and testosterone. The results indicate that secretion of prolactin, GH, TSH, FSH and testosterone are age-dependent, as are the responses of TSH, LH and testosterone to Freund's adjuvant administration.