Endocrinological research on wild animals inhabiting remote areas has been hampered by the need to store plasma samples at subzero temperatures. In an attempt to remedy this logistical issue, we here investigate the use of ethanol as an alternative to freezing for the preservation of steroid and indoleamine hormones in avian plasma. Known quantities of the steroids 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), testosterone, 17beta-estradiol, corticosterone, and the indoleamine melatonin were added to a stripped pool of chicken plasma. Samples were either immediately frozen at -40 degrees C, or treated with pure ethanol. Ethanol-treated samples were either immediately frozen, or-to simulate storage conditions at various field locations-left sitting at room temperature for one to two months, or incubated at 36 degrees C for one month before all treatment groups were frozen at -40 degrees C. All samples were then analyzed by radioimmunoassay. For DHT and estradiol there were no differences among treatment groups suggesting that ethanol-treatment is as effective as immediate freezing in preserving plasma steroid concentrations. For testosterone, corticosterone and melatonin ethanol-treated samples differed significantly from immediately frozen samples suggesting that caution is needed when comparing absolute concentrations of hormones between samples preserved in different ways. However, differences among ethanol-treated samples in general were small, demonstrating the feasibility of this preservation method in the field at remote locations.