Cysteamine (CSH), a sulfhydryl agent that promotes disulfide-exchange reactions, was studied for its effects on the immunoreactive (IR) levels and synthesis of oxytocin and vasopressin in the hypothalamus. CSH injection (300 mg/ kg s.c.) caused a rapid (1 h) suppression of <sup>35</sup>S-cysteine incorporation into hypothalamic arginine vasopressin (VP) and oxytocin (OT). The reduction in labeling persisted for about 8 h; label incorporation was normal within 10 h of CSH administration. The drug did not influence <sup>35</sup>S-cysteine incorporation into acid-precipitable protein, nor did it influence <sup>35</sup>S-cysteine specific activity in the hypothalamus. In addition, <sup>35</sup>S-VP and <sup>35</sup>S-OT molecules could not be recovered from hypothalami of CSH-treated rats by subjecting samples to denaturing, reducing and then reoxidizing conditions. Despite the reduction in peptide labeling, CSH treatment produced no alterations in the IR VP and OT contents of hypothalamus or posterior pituitary. These results indicate that CSH causes a true suppression of both VP and OT formation in hypothalamus, and suggest that the effect is either too transient to promote a reduction in endogenous stores of either peptide, or that the drug equally inhibits peptide production and removal (i.e., axonal transport, secretion).