Azido-3′-deoxy-thymidine (AZT) is a drug extensively used in the treatment of AIDS. AZT was incubated in vitro either with the pituitary-hypothalamus complex (PHc) or the intact pituitary (PI) of male rats. The PHc is comprised of the hypothalamus and the attached pituitary gland. After a preincubation period, the PHc or PI was incubated for 1 or 2 h with Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate buffer or either of two different concentrations of AZT (1 and 10 µ M). In the control incubations, the PHc released less prolactin (PRL) and more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) than the PI, indicating that hypothalamic control of the pituitary was exerted in vitro, presumably by diffusion of releasing and inhibiting hormones from the neurohypophysis to the anterior lobe of the hypophysis. Both concentrations of AZT evoked a significant increase in release of PRL and a decreased release of LH and FSH from the PHc. In the case of LH, the higher concentration of AZT partially suppressed LH release within 1 h. The other effects were not dose-related and were observed after incubating the tissue with AZT for 2 h. However, incubation of the PI with AZT failed to alter anterior pituitary hormone release, illustrating that the site of action of AZT is in the hypothalamus. We hypothesize that AZT blocks DNA synthesis resulting in suppression of synthesis and consequent release of hypothalamic hormones that control release of pituitary hormones in vitro. The results raise the possibility that AZT may alter hypothalamic-pituitary function in vivo.