We have demonstrated previously that pharmacological doses of oestradiol decreased leptin receptor expression in the hypothalamus. We therefore analysed leptin receptor expression during the oestrous cycle in the rat, to establish if acute changes in oestradiol affect leptin receptor expression under physiological conditions. Radioactive in situ hybridization histochemistry was used to measure the gene expression under investigation. Total leptin receptor transcript levels were lowest in pro-oestrus in the choroid plexus, these changes correspond inversely with levels of circulating oestradiol in the rat 4-day oestrous cycle. In contrast full-length leptin receptor levels in both arcuate and ventromedial nuclei did not correspond to the levels of total leptin receptor in the same areas of the hypothalamus or serum levels of oestradiol. Full-length leptin receptor expression in the arcuate nucleus was negatively correlated with neuropeptide Y (NPY) expression (r = 0.447, p < 0. 05) in the same nucleus. Arcuate nucleus NPY expression did not correlate significantly with the expression of total leptin receptors in the arcuate nucleus (r = 0.080) or serum leptin levels (r = 0.251). Our results demonstrate that leptin receptor expression is regulated during the oestrous cycle. The unchanged serum leptin levels during the oestrous cycle together with the correlation between the expression of leptin-RL and NPY provide circumstantial evidence that regulation of leptin receptor abundance in the hypothalamus governs the biological actions of leptin.