This study determined the birthdates of the tyrosine hydroxylase-(TH) immunoreactive (IR) neurons in the zona incerta (ZI), periventricular nucleus (PeVN) and arcuate nucleus (AN) of male and female rats. ‘Long-survivaΓ [<sup>3</sup>H]thymidine autoradiography combined with TH immunocytochemistry, the first enzyme of catecholamine synthesis, was used. In males, TH-IR neurons originate in the ZI between embryonic days (E) 12 and 13, while in the PeVN and AN this process is prolonged until E16. The majority of TH-IR neurons became postmitotic at E12 in the ZI, between E12 and E14 in the PeVN and at E15 in the AN. The birthdate of TH-IR neurons was sexually dimorphic with (a) generation of the majority of TH-IR neurons in the ZI in males preceding that in females, (b) generation of TH-IR neurons in the AN of males delayed as compared to females, and (c) average daily fractions of the newborn TH-IR neurons in each hypothalamic region of females exceeding that seen in males. This sexual dimorphism was observed prior to E26, i.e. before the onset of sex difference in androgen levels, implying a hormone-independent mechanism, determined at the genetic level.