Testosterone and estradiol act synergistically to stimulate male sexual behavior. Previous studies demonstrated that testosterone's actions are mediated genomically. Attempts to show that estradiol acts in a similar fashion have been inconclusive. However, estrogens have been shown to exert short-latency effects by acting directly on neuronal membranes. The present experiment examined whether testosterone or estradiol rapidly facilitates copulatory behaviors in castrated sexually experienced rats. Within 35 min of administration, estradiol stimulated chemoinvestigation and frequency of mounting and reduced mount latency in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, acute administration of testosterone did not alter sexual activity. These data demonstrate for the first time that estradiol exerts short-latency effects on copulatory behavior, providing indirect evidence that this action is mediated through a nontranscriptional mechanism.