The differential role of porcine follicular fluid (pFF) in regulating follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) release in vivo in situations of different gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) backgrounds was studied. In experiment 1, 2-week ovariectomized rats injected intravenously with 4, 16 or 64 mg of protein from pFF, showed a dose-dependent suppression of FSH over time, with a maximal suppression to 40% of control values by 10 h. LH levels were slightly, but significantly, elevated by the two lower doses, but not by the highest dose of pFF. In experiment 2,64 mg pFF was superimposed (i.v. injection) in ovariectomized rats injected subcutaneously with a high dose of GnRH antagonist (500 µg) 24 h earlier. The pFF suppressed FSH 35% below the level achieved in the absence of GnRH stimulation, with no effect on LH. In experiment 3, the rise in FSH secretion in acutely ovariectomized rats was shown to be inhibited by 8 or 32 mg pFF administered intravenously 3.5 h after surgery. Injection of GnRH (250 or 1,000 ng) 4.5 h after pFF could not overcome the inhibitory action of pFF on FSH, although non-pFF-treated controls responded in a dose-dependent fashion to GnRH stimulation. The expected LH response to GnRH was not affected by pFF, except in the group receiving 1,000 ng GnRH and 8 mg pFF. In these rats, LH was enhanced in one trial, but suppressed in a replicate trial, illustrating the inconsistent effects of pFF on LH under conditions of high GnRH stimulation. These results demonstrate the existence of a component of FSH secretion which is independent of GnRH, but sensitive to the inhibitory effect of pFF, suggesting a site of action of the putative peptide hormone, folliculostatin, distal to the GnRH receptor. Also, pFF always suppresses FSH (due to the action of folliculostatin); its effect on LH depends on the dose and the state of GnRH stimulation, and is probably not a function of folliculostatin per se.