The effects of changes in pulse frequency of exogenously infused gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) were investigated in 6 adult surgically hypothalamo/pituitary-disconnected (HPD) gonadal-intact rams. Ten-minute sampling in 16 normal animals prior to HPD showed endogenous luteinizing hormone (LH) pulses occurring every 2.3 h with a mean pulse amplitude of 1.11 +/- 0.06 (SEM) ng/ml. Mean testosterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) concentrations were 3.0 +/- 0.14 ng/ml and 0.85 +/- 0.10 ng/ml, respectively. Before HPD, increasing single doses of GnRH (50-500 ng) elicited a dose-dependent rise of LH, 50 ng producing a response of similar amplitude to those of spontaneous LH pulses. The effects of varying the pulse frequency of a 100-ng GnRH dose weekly was investigated in 6 HPD animals; the pulse intervals explored were those at 1, 2, and 4 h. The pulsatile GnRH treatment was commenced 2-6 days after HPD when plasma testosterone concentrations were in the castrate range (less than 0.5 ng/ml) in all animals. Pulsatile LH and testosterone secretion was reestablished in all animals in the first 7 days by 2-h GnRH pulses, but the maximal pulse amplitudes of both hormones were only 50 and 62%, respectively, of endogenous pulses in the pre-HPD state. The plasma FSH pattern was nonpulsatile and FSH concentrations gradually increased in the first 7 days, although not to the pre-HPD range. Increasing GnRH pulse frequency from 2- to 1-hour immediately increased the LH baseline and pulse amplitude. As testosterone concentrations increased, the LH responses declined in a reciprocal fashion between Days 2 and 7. FSH concentration decreased gradually over the 7 days at the 1-h pulse frequency. Slowing the GnRH pulse to a 4-h frequency produced a progressive fall in testosterone concentrations, even though LH baselines were unchanged and LH pulse amplitudes increased transiently. FSH concentrations were unaltered during the 4-h regime. These results show that 1) the pulsatile pattern of LH and testosterone secretion in HPD rams can be reestablished by exogenous GnRH, 2) the magnitude of LH, FSH, and testosterone secretion were not fully restored to pre-HPD levels by the GnRH dose of 100 ng per pulse, and 3) changes in GnRH pulse frequency alone can influence both gonadotropin and testosterone secretion in the HPD model.