Serum TSH and PRL levels and their response to TRH were measured in 11 patients with generalized resistance to thyroid hormone (GRTH), 6 euthyroid subjects, and 6 patients with primary hypothyroidism. TSH and PRL levels and their response to TRH were also measured after the consecutive administration of 50, 100, and 200 micrograms T3 daily, each for a period of 3 days. Using a sensitive TSH assay, all GRTH patients had TSH values that were elevated or within the normal range. On the basis of a normal or elevated TSH level, GRTH patients were classified as GRTH-N1 TSH (5 patients) or GRTH-Hi TSH (6 patients), respectively. Only GRTH patients with previous thyroid ablative therapy had basal TSH values greater than 20 mU/L. TSH responses, in terms of percent increment above baseline, were appropriate for the basal TSH level in all subjects. No GRTH patient had an elevated basal PRL level. PRL responses to TRH were significantly increased only in the hypothyroid controls compared to values in all other groups. On 50 micrograms T3, 7 of 12 (58%) nonresistant (euthyroid and hypothyroid) and 1 of 11 (9%) resistant subjects had a greater than 75% suppression of the TSH response to TRH. On the same T3 dose, 2 of 12 (17%) nonresistant and 4 of 11 (36%) resistant subjects had a greater than 50% suppression of the PRL response to TRH. On 200 micrograms T3, all subjects, except for 1 with GRTH, had a greater than 75% suppression of the TSH response to TRH. On the same T3 dose, while 11 of 12 (92%) nonresistant subjects had a greater than 50% reduction of the PRL response to TRH, only 3 of 10 (30%) resistant patients showed this degree of suppression (P less than 0.005). Without previous ablative therapy, serum TSH in patients with GRTH is usually normal or mildly elevated. The TSH response to TRH is proportional to the basal TSH level and is suppressed by exogenous T3. However, on 200 micrograms T3 basal TSH was not detectable (less than 0.1 mU/L) in all euthyroid subjects, but it was measurable in three of four GRTH patients with normal TSH levels before T3 treatment. PRL levels in GRTH are normal even when TSH is elevated. The PRL response to TRH is not increased in GRTH. In all subjects, exogenous T3 suppresses the PRL response to TRH to a lesser degree than the TSH response, but this difference is much greater in patients with GRTH.