Two experiments were conducted with ovariectomized and hypothalamo-pituitary disconnected (HPD) ewes to ascertain the pattern of inputs, to the pituitary gland, of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) necessary for the full expression of an oestrogen-induced LH surge. The standard GnRH replacement to these sheep was to give pulses of 250 ng (i.v.) every 2 h; at the onset of experimentation, pulses were given hourly. In experiment 1, groups of sheep (n = 7) were given an i.m. injection of 50 μg oestradiol benzoate, and after 10 h the GnRH pulse frequency or pulse amplitude was doubled. Monitoring of plasma LH concentrations showed that a doubling of pulse frequency produced a marked increase in baseline values, whereas a doubling of amplitude had little effect on the LH response. In a second experiment, ovariectomized HPD sheep that had received hourly pulses of GnRH for 16 h after an i.m. injection of oil or 50 μg oestradiol benzoate were given either a 'bolus' (2.25 μg GnRH) or a 'volley' (500 ng GnRH pulses 10 min apart for 30 min, plus a 500 ng pulse 15 min later). Both groups then received GnRH pulses (250 ng) every 30 min for the next 13 h. Oestrogen enhanced the LH responses to the GnRH treatments, and the amount of LH released was similar in ovariectomized HPD ewes given oestrogen plus bolus or volley GnRH treatments and ovariectomized hypothalamo-pituitary intact ewes given oestrogen. These results suggest that the oestrogen-induced LH surge is initiated by a 'signal' pattern of GnRH secretion from the hypothalamus.