We examined the positive and negative feedback effects of estradiol (E2) on luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin (Prl) secretion in adult male and female rats which were gonadectomized within 24 h after birth (long-term castrates) and compared these responses to those elicited by E2 in short-term castrated (7 days) adult males and females. The high serum E2 did not reduce the elevated serum LH concentrations in long-term castrates until 4 days of treatment. Also, only after negative feedback was established were the positive feedback actions of E2 observed. In contrast, Prl surges were observed after 2 days of E2, and baseline Prl serum levels were elevated by Day 3 of E2 in long-term castrated male and female rats. Some long-term castrates lacked both LH and Prl surges, and E2 was ineffective in altering basal gonadotropin secretion in these animals. Short-term castrated males had elevated serum Prl levels but no Prl surges. Seemingly, when the hypothalamus is deprived of estrogen or androgen from birth to adulthood, an equal percentage of males and females become refractory to the positive feedback effects of estrogen during adulthood. Thus, it is difficult to separate castration effects from those which may be produced by the endogenous androgen secreted during the first 26 h of life.