LH nocturnal pulsatility and bioactivity to immunoreactivity (B/I) ratio were determined in 16 patients with anorexia nervosa-related hypothalamic amenorrhea and low sex steroid levels, and in 12 normal women in the midfollicular phase. The patients were subdivided into 2 groups: IA (N=7) without, and IB (N=9) with documented recent weight gain. Blood samples were taken from each subject at 10-min intervals from 00.00 to 06.00 h. Immunoreactive LH data were analysed with cluster analysis algorithm. A pool of aliquots from all the samples was used to evaluate bioactive LH, immunoreactive LH and LH B/I ratio in each subject. LH pulse frequency was lower in Group IA than in controls, whereas it did not differ significantly between Group IB and controls. LH pulse amplitude was lower in Group IA, and higher in Group IB than in controls. LH B/I ratio was below the control range in 3/16 patients. In conclusion, persistent hypothalamic amenorrhea does not require a permanent inhibition of the GnRH pulse generator; transient inhibition of pulsatility and qualitative abnormalities of gonadotropins could be involved in the mechanism, at least in some patients.