The role of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in the regulation of TSH secretion was studied in male rats using both peripheral and central administration of the drugs. Basal TSH levels were not modified by moderate doses of 5-HT (subcutaneously) or its precursors or antagonists (intraperitoneally) given 1 h before decapitation. The cold-stimulated TSH secretion was decreased by L-tryptophan (L-TRP, 400 mg/kg i.p.), quipazine (10 mg/kg i.p.) and 5-HT (1 or 5 mg/kg s.c. or i.v.) as well as by p-chlorophenylalanine (pCPA, 20 or more mg/kg i.p.) when the drugs were given 1 h before sampling. pCPA (100–400 mg/kg i.p.) was active 24-48 h after the injection but repetitive administration did not affect TSH levels. 5-HT (5 mg/kg s.c.) was effective also in pinealectomized animals. L-TRP and 5-hydroxytryptophan potentiated the TRH-stimulated TSH secretion when given 1 h before killing. 5-HT (10 µg/rat) infused into the third ventricle enhanced the cold-stimulated TSH secretion when given 30-45 min before sampling. When injected into the medial basal hypothalamus, 5-HT (1-10 µg/rat) had no effect on basal or stimulated TSH levels. The results suggest: (1) 5-HT does not play any role in the regulation of basal TSH secretion; (2) in the cold-stimulated TSH secretion 5-HT has a stimulatory action evidently inside the blood-brain barrier and also an inhibitory effect obviously outside this barrier.