Acid extracts of bovine preovulatory granulosa cells and corpora lutea (CL) were subjected to high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and found to contain two peaks of immunoreactive (ir) oxytocin (OT), one corresponding to authentic OT and the second eluting 8 min later. The second peak was more abundant than authentic irOT in preovulatory follicles and in the early CL, but became less abundant as the CL matured (mid luteal) and was close to the limit of detection in the late CL. This peak could be detected only by an OT antiserum which recognized both the biologically active form of OT, as well as the post-translational processing intermediate Gly10-extended oxytocin. A second more specific OT antiserum (OT-933) did not recognize the second peak as strongly. Further analysis of the second peak revealed a complex of OT bound to its neurophysin (NP-I) which could be dissociated under denaturing conditions. Furthermore, we were able to create this complex in vitro by combining the two materials together under acid conditions, similar to the pH predicted in secretory granules, but not under neutral conditions. Measuring irNP-I by radioimmunoassay showed a single peak with a similar retention time to the OT/NP-I complex, confirming the identity of the unknown peak. Incubation of CL slices in culture showed a time-related release of both OT and NP-I, with OT having a greater rate of release in the mid luteal CL. These data suggest the presence of an OT/NP-I complex in the bovine preovulatory granulosa cells and CL, as well as the unbound peptide presumably within the secretory granules. The ratio of OT/NP-I complex and free peptide changes with ageing of the the CL, perhaps indicating regulated differences in the post-translational processing of the prohormone.