Events in the normal menstrual cycle of the endangered Sulawesi Crested Black Macaque (Macaca nigra) were characterized. Daily blood samples were obtained during 10 menstrual cycles from five M. nigra demonstrating regular cycles. The amount of perineal tumescence was scored daily. Serum levels of estradiol and progesterone were determined by RIA, serum LH levels were determined by the mouse Leydig cell bioassay, and serum FSH levels were determined by the rat granulosa cell aromatase bioassay. Cycle length was 39.8 +/- 1.0 days (mean +/- SEM) with an LH surge occurring 25 +/- 1.5 days from the onset of menses. After menses, both LH and estradiol were initially depressed, with estradiol first exceeding 50 pg/ml 8 days before the LH surge. In five cycles, peak estradiol levels (340 +/- 44 pg/ml) occurred on the day of the LH surge (637 +/- 58 ng/ml) and in the other five cycles, on the day before the LH surge. There was a broad increase of FSH in midcycle without a well-defined surge corresponding to the LH surge. Progesterone began increasing on the day of the LH surge and reached peak levels (6.8 +/- 0.96 ng/ml) 8 days later. Maximal perineal tumescence was generally associated with the time of the LH surge, but variation between animals made it impossible to predict accurately the day of the LH surge by perineal tumescence scores alone.