Effects of energy intake on the estrous cycle of the desert gerbillid, Sundevall's jird (Meriones crassus; 80 g; n=22) were studied. Females were offered either maintenance or below maintenance levels of millet seeds and ad lib. Atriplex halimus leaves and stems; drinking water was not available. Vaginal smears were used to determine sexual stage. We hypothesized that the estrous cycle ceases at low levels of energy intake and commences when sufficient energy is available. Females lost body mass linearly with a decrease in metabolizable energy intake. Estrous cycle averaged 4.46 d at maintenance energy intake but increased to an average of 7.81 d at 70% of maintenance energy intake. A cessation of the cycle occurred at an energy intake below 70% of maintenance requirements, which resulted in a body mass loss of more than 1% per day. More variability in the length of the different stages of the cycle was found with lower levels of energy intake. When offered ad lib. millet seeds and A. halimus (n=14), recovery to the normal cycle was attained within 10 d by 43% of the females and within 16 d by the rest of the females. Recovery time was longest in females that previously had the lowest energy intake. We concluded that the estrous cycle of M. crassus is sensitive to energy intake. With restricted energy intake, the estrous cycle and reproductive activities cease but can be restored with provision of adequate energy. This strategy ensures that reproduction occurs when conditions of food availability and body condition of the females are favorable.