To test the hypothesis that gap junctions are dependent on the tropic state of the adrenal gland, the effect of hypophysectomy on connexin 43 (alpha1-Cx43) gap junction protein occurrence and distribution was examined in mice. Gap junction protein occurrence was assessed with immunohistochemical techniques. In the adrenal gland from intact animals, alpha1-Cx43 gap junction protein was detected in the zonae fasciculata(ZF) and reticularis (ZR) while only a few alpha1-Cx43 gap junction plaques were found connecting zona glomerulosa(ZG) cells. Hypophysectomy led to a profound atrophy of the cortex which was more marked in the inner zones (zonae fasciculata and reticularis) than in the zona glomerulosa. There was a time dependent loss of alpha1-Cx43 gap junction protein in the adrenal cortex after hypophysectomy. At 33 day following hypophysectomy there was a two fold decrease in gap junctions in the zona fasciculata while the average gap junction plaque size was not different than the size seen in control animal adrenal glands.. ACTH (1U/gm body weight) treatment in hypophysectomized animals increased the number of gap junction plaques in the zona fasciculata. Hypophysectomy led to diminished alpha1-Cx43 gap junction expression in the zona fasciculata which could be restored by ACTH treatment. Because altering the tropic state of the adrenal glands via hypophysectomy leads to a reduction in gap junction number, it can be suggested that control of gap junction expression in the adrenal gland is hormone dependent and linked to adrenal gland function.