We administered ovine corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) as a bolus intravenous injection (1 µg/kg) at 09.00 and at 20.00 to assess the influence of circadian changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis on the response to CRF. The increase in plasma ACTH levels after CRF was only slightly lower in the morning than in the evening. The plasma cortisol response to ACTH, however, was significantly greater in the evening than in the morning (p < 0.005). At both times of day CRF administration had no effect on plasma concentrations of GH, PRL, LH, AVP, insulin, PRA or glucose. No effects were observed on the hematopoietic system, kidneys or liver. In addition, CRF had no effect on heart rate, blood pressure or respiratory rate at the dose employed. Approximately 10% of the subjects complained of a transient upper body and facial hot flush. These observations indicate that the magnitude of the plasma cortisol rise after CRF depends on the time of administration.