Galanin-like peptide (GALP) mRNA is expressed in neurones of the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus and within pituicytes in the neurohypophysis. Several neuropeptides that are expressed in the arcuate nucleus participate in the neuroendocrine regulation of pituitary hormone secretion. Our objective was to determine the extent to which GALP might be a target for regulation by pituitary hormones or their downstream targets in the rat. The expression of GALP mRNA in the arcuate nucleus was reduced by hypophysectomy as determined by in situ hybridization. However, this did not appear to be attributable to the loss of either gonadal or adrenal steroids because castrated, ovariectomized and adrenalectomized rats had GALP mRNA expression that was indistinguishable from their respective controls. Next, we investigated the effects of growth hormone deficiency on GALP mRNA expression by studying dwarf rats and found that GALP gene expression was not different between dwarf rats and controls. We found that thyroidectomy led to a significant reduction in GALP mRNA expression compared to intact controls, and thyroidectomized rats implanted with thyroxine pellets had GALP mRNA expression that was similar to intact controls. Thus, the reduction of GALP mRNA expression seen in hypophysectomized animals may reflect, in part, a selective loss of thyroid hormone. We also found that the expression of GALP mRNA was increased in the neurohypophysis of lactating rats compared to nonlactating rats, whereas GALP mRNA expression in the arcuate nucleus was unaffected by lactation. This suggests that the induction of GALP gene expression in pituicytes is physiologically associated with activation of oxytocin and vasopressin secretion during lactation.