Our laboratory has identified plasma membrane oestrogen receptors on a GH3/B6 rat pituitary tumour cell line and several sublines which produce rapid (within minutes), non-genomic responses to oestrogens. Oestrogen receptors have been identified by their binding to nine different antibodies (Abs) which together recognize at least seven epitopes on the oestrogen receptor-alpha. GH3/B6/F10 cells, a membrane oestrogen receptor-enriched subline, elevate intracellular calcium levels in response to 10 nM oestradiol. Prolactin release in these cells is triggered by both 1 pM and 1 nM oestradiol and diethylstilbestrol (DES). A membrane oestrogen receptor-alpha immunocytochemical signal rapidly disappears (at 3 min) and reappears (at 12-15 min) when 1 nM oestradiol, 10 nM diethylstilbestrol, or 10 nM nonylphenol is applied to the cells. This suggests that both oestrogens and xenoestrogens can utilize this alternative pathway for oestrogenic action. Xenoestrogens, which have so far shown weak effects in genomic assay systems, should now be retested for activity in eliciting membrane-initiated oestrogenic responses.