Melatonin plays a significant role in the control of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Using the GT1-7 cell line, an in vitro model of GnRH-secreting neurons of the hypothalamus, we examined the potential signal transduction pathways activated by melatonin directly at the level of the GT1-7 neuron. We found that melatonin inhibits forskolin-stimulated adenosine 3'-, 5'-cyclic monophosphate accumulation in GT1-7 cells through an inhibitory G protein. Melatonin induced protein kinase C activity by 1.65-fold over basal levels, increased the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 proteins, and activated c-fos and junB mRNA expression in GT1-7 cells. Using the protein kinase A inhibitor H-89, the protein kinase C inhibitor bisindolylmaleimide, and the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inhibitor PD98059, we found that the melatonin-mediated cyclical regulation of GnRH mRNA expression may involve the protein kinase C and the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 pathways, but not the protein kinase A pathway. We found that melatonin suppresses GnRH secretion by approximately 45% in the GT1-7 neurons. However, in the presence of the inhibitors H-89, bisindolylmaleimide, and PD98059 melatonin was unable to suppress GnRH secretion. These results provide insights into the potential signal transduction mechanisms involved in the control of GnRH gene expression and secretion by melatonin.