Herein we documented the response of pineal melatonin production to electrolytes known to be effective on pineal function in view of a possible circadian stage dependence. We studied the release of melatonin by perifused rat pineal glands at 2 different circadian stages corresponding to the middle of the light and dark periods, i.e., respectively, 7 and 19 HALO (Hours After Light Onset, L:D = 12:12). The initial efflux rates were, as expected, much higher in the perifusates of glands removed from rats sacrificed during the dark phase than of those removed during the light phase. After 3 hr of perifusion, melatonin release reached similar levels which were found constant up to the 8th hr of perifusion, whatever the circadian stage. Perifusion of the glands with physiological concentrations for the rat of calcium (5.2 mmol/l) and magnesium (1.34 mmol/l) resulted in a stimulatory effect on the pineal glands removed from rats sacrificed in the middle of the dark period (19 HALO), whereas no effects were observed on the pineal glands removed from rats sacrificed during the light (7 HALO). Lithium (0.28 and 0.55 mmol/l) was ineffective on melatonin release in pineal glands removed 7 and 19 HALO. Our results show differences in the initial efflux rates of melatonin and in the response of perifused pineal glands to calcium and magnesium according to the circadian stage.