The effect of preferential delivery of estradiol (E2) into the brain on both the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and weight gain was studied in female rats. When E2 was coupled to a lipoidal dihydropyridine-pyridinium carrier, the resulting carrier E2 complex (CE), upon a single intravenous administration to cycling female rats, caused a dose-dependent inhibition of ovulation which lasted 3 times longer than with uncoupled E2. The dose of CE that delayed ovulation for 4 days was one twentieth the amount of E2 needed to produce the same effect. Studies in ovariectomized (OVEX) rats indicated that the prolonged ovulation-blocking action of CE appeared to be related to a sustained storage and release of E2 in the brain, which in turn suppressed the release of hypothalamic luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) and pituitary luteinizing hormone (LH). Upon single intravenous administration in pubertal female rats, CE caused a dose-dependent reduction of body weight gain for a minimum period of 28 days. The inhibitory action of CE on body weight gain was more potent and longer lasting than that of E2 in pubertal rats. When administered in OVEX rats, CE produced a loss of body weight that lasted significantly longer than that produced by uncoupled E2 in these rats. These results suggest that the biological action of E2 can be potentiated by this novel chemical delivery system.