Although the mammary gland of many species secretes estradiol (E(2)), nothing is known of E(2) secretion in the porcine gland. The present study was designed to investigate whether porcine mammary gland was a source of E(2), and to test the influence of individual and combined effects of exogenous progesterone and estradiol benzoate (EB) on the secretion of E(2). Immature crossbred gilts were ovariectomized at 7 months of age followed by 4 weeks later by steroid hormone replacement therapy to produce estradiol and progesterone (P(4)) blood concentrations similar to those observed during a normal estrous cycle. Arterial and venous blood plasma (from carotid artery and anterior mammary vein, respectively) were sampled for 2h at 10 min intervals. Plasma concentrations of progesterone, androstenedione (A(4)), testosterone (T), estrone (E(1)) and estradiol were determined by RIA. In all gilts treated with progesterone alone or in combination with EB, concentrations of P(4), A(4) and E(1) in blood collected from venous outflow were lower compared to concentrations in arterial blood, whereas concentrations of E(2) were higher in blood plasma from the anterior mammary vein compared to plasma from the carotid artery. The results indicated that the porcine mammary gland secreted E(2). Increased concentrations of plasma E(2) collected only from P(4)-treated animals suggested that progesterone activated enzymes involved in steroidogenesis in porcine mammary gland, or those utilized in its metabolism.