Single unit activity was recorded with micropipettes in the medial hypothalamus and preoptic area of urethane-anesthetized ovariectomized female rats. Some females had received long-term estradiol treatment, while others had been left untreated. In the medial preoptic region and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, estrogen-treated rats had fewer cells (compared to untreated rats) with recordable spontaneous activity, due primarily to a loss of cells with very slow firing rates. In the basomedial hypothalamus, estrogen-treated rats had more cells (than untreated rats) with recordable spontaneous activity, due primarily to an increase in the number of cells with slow firing rates. Responsiveness of neurons to somatosensory stimulation was generally low. If present it was depressed by estrogen treatment in medial preoptic area and bed nucleus of stria terminalis, while it tended to be elevated by estrogen treatment in medial anterior hypothalamus and basomedial hypothalamus. Differences in the effects of long-term systemic estrogen treatment on medial preoptic neurons compared to basomedial hypothalamus are paralledled by differences in the control of lordosis by these neurons in female rats.