To verify the role of dopaminergic mechanisms in the control of gonadotropin secretion in normal and hyperprolactinemic women, we examined the gonadotropin response to GnRH (100 micrograms i.v.) administration in both basal conditions and during low-dose dopamine (DA, 0.1 microgram/kg/min) infusion. Hyperprolactinemic women, either with microadenoma or without radiological signs of pituitary tumor, showed significantly enhanced LH and FSH responses to GnRH in comparison with normal cycling women. 0.1 microgram/kg/min DA infusion did not result in any appreciable suppression of serum gonadotropin levels but significantly reduced the LH and FSH responses to GnRH in both normal and amenorrheic hyperprolactinemic women. Although both LH and FSH levels remained higher in hyperprolactinemic patients than in normal women after GnRH, the gonadotroph's sensitivity to DA inhibition was normal in the hyperprolactinemic group, as both control subjects and patients with hyperprolactinemic showed similar per cent suppression of GnRH-stimulated gonadotropin release during DA. These data confirm that hypothalamic DA modulates the gonadotroph's responsiveness to GnRH. The increased LH and FSH responses to GnRH in hyperprolactinemic patients and their reduction during low-dose DA infusion seem to indicate that endogenous DA inhibition of pituitary gonadotropin release is reduced rather than enhanced in women with pathological hyperprolactinemia.