The possibility that neuropeptide Y (NPY) exerts organizational effects on central noradrenergic systems was investigated by treating newborn rats with subcutaneous injections of a specific NPY-antiserum. Three months later, neuroendocrine function was determined by measuring plasma vasopressin following haemorrhage, since this response is known to be regulated by ascending noradrenergic pathways. Basal mean arterial pressure, heart rate and plasma vasopressin were similar in both control (normal rabbit serum-treated) and NPY-antiserum-treated rats. Treatment with this antiserum resulted in an impaired vasopressin response to haemorrhage, although the haemodynamic changes observed after this hypovolaemic challenge were similar to control rats. NPY and noradrenaline content in the hypothalamus and brainstem were examined at the end of these experiments. NPY-like immunoreactivity was similar in both groups of animals. However, electrochemical detection of noradrenaline after HPLC revealed significantly higher levels in the hypothalamus, but not brainstem, of NPY-antiserum-treated rats. The presence of enduring changes in noradrenaline levels and neurohypophyseal function following neonatal treatment with NPY-antiserum suggests a role for NPY in postnatal organization of the rat hypothalamus.