The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of acute exercise and hormone replacement therapy on serum leptin concentrations in postmenopausal women. Subjects were 15 healthy, postmenopausal women, 8 on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and 7 not on hormone replacement therapy (NHRT). Group comparisons indicated no significant differences between HRT and NHRT groups with respect to age, height, weight, BMI, sum of skinfolds, or VO2max, and verified significant differences in estradiol and FSH concentrations. After an overnight fast, each subject completed 30 min of treadmill exercise at approximately 80% VO2max. Over 2 hr and 10 min, baseline, exercise, and recovery blood samples were collected from an intravenous catheter. A control session conducted a month later consisted of the same blood sampling protocol without exercise. Leptin concentrations declined significantly over the course of both the exercise and control sessions, gradually decreasing from baseline levels to -1.54 +/- 0.49 ng. ml-1 postexercise, and continuing to decline to a low of -2.89 +/- 0.59 ng. ml-1 at the end of the session. There was no significant difference between groups with respect to this decline. This is the first study to document that diurnal changes in leptin concentrations in postmenopausal women are not altered by acute treadmill exercise or HRT status. The study underscores the need to account for a diurnal reduction in leptin over the course of an exercise trial.