Idiopathic pituitary GH deficiency appears to result from neonatal disruption of hypophyseal portal vessels in the majority of patients. To examine the mechanism of GH deficiency associated with the disease, the effect of pituitary stalk section on GH secretion was studied in rats. Adult male rats were subjected to stalk section without inserting an impermeable membrane between the cut ends. They were studied 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. In stalk-sectioned rats, pituitary weight, body weight and hypothalamic SRIH content were significantly reduced as compared with sham-operated rats. Hypothalamic GHRH content, plasma T3, T4, corticosterone and testosterone levels, and weights of testes remove and adrenal glands were comparable in the two groups. Plasma GH profiles of sham-operated rats showed characteristic periodic pulses occurring at 2.5-3 h intervals with intervening trough period. In stalk-sectioned rats, plasma GH levels were low with small fluctuations, but GH levels were significantly higher than trough levels of sham-operated rats. The amount of GH secreted during a 6-h period as measured by planimetry was significantly reduced. To ascertain the regeneration of hypophyseal portal vessels, post SRIH rebound in GH secretion, which requires the presence of endogenous GHRH, was examined. Withdrawal of exogenous SRIH infusion triggered a large rebound GH secretion whose magnitude did not differ between groups. In stalk-sectioned rats, GH response to met-enkephalin analogue, FK 33-824, was not observed, whereas prolactin response to the secretagogue was observed in the majority of rats. It appears that in stalksectioned rats, hypophyseal portal circulation is re-established, but GHRH release from the hypothalamus is impaired in the face of sufficient supply of other hypophysiotropic hormones.