A robust gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) surge is a prerequisite signal for the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge that triggers ovulation. In rodents, the GnRH surge is initiated by elevated estradiol and a diurnal switch in estrogen action from negative to positive feedback. The ability of constant estradiol treatment to induce daily LH surges was tested in adult mice that were ovariectomized (OVX) or OVX and treated with estradiol implants (OVX+E). LH in OVX mice showed no time-of-day difference. In contrast, OVX+E mice showed a large LH surge (8- to 124-fold relative to the a.m.) in p.m. samples on d 2-5 post-OVX+E. Targeted extracellular recordings were used to examine changes in firing activity of GnRH neurons in brain slices. There was no time-of-day difference in cells from OVX mice. In contrast, OVX+E cells recorded in the p.m. showed an increased mean firing rate and instantaneous firing frequency, which could increase GnRH release, and decreased duration of quiescence between bouts of firing, possibly reflecting increased pulse frequency, compared with cells recorded in the a.m. In the a.m., OVX+E cells showed changes in GnRH neuron firing reflecting negative feedback compared with OVX cells, whereas in the p.m., OVX+E cells exhibited changes suggesting positive feedback. These data indicate that differences in pattern and level of individual GnRH neuron firing may reflect the switch in estradiol action and underlie GnRH surge generation. The persistence of altered GnRH neuron activity in slices indicates that this approach can be used to study the neurobiological mechanisms of surge generation.