Since reports on the influence of melatonin (aMT) on the human endocrine system are scant and inconsistent, the effect of an acute, pharmacological dose of aMT on various hormone levels in healthy males was examined in 3 different experiments. Experiment I: 80 or 240 mg of crystalline aMT were administered per os to 8 volunteers. Before, during and after this treatment, serum levels of aMT, PRL, LH, FSH and testosterone were examined. Although aMT increased at least 1,500-fold over basal levels, only PRL was significantly and consistently elevated after aMT treatment, whereas serum levels of the other hormones were not altered. Experiment II: in 2 subjects, the pulsatile secretion pattern of LH was monitored for 6 h before and 6 h after aMT administration (240 mg p.o.). Neither the amplitude nor the frequency of LH pulses was influenced by the pineal hormone. Experiment III: in 14 volunteers, serum PRL, GH, TSH and cortisol concentrations were examined, once after oral administration of 240 mg aMT and once after placebo. Serum PRL levels were significantly higher after aMT than after placebo; GH showed a slight but not significant trend towards elevation after aMT, whereas other hormones were not altered. An acute pharmacological dose of aMT causes isolated elevation of serum PRL levels and may slightly increase GH. Hormones of the pituitary gonadal axis as well as TSH and cortisol are not altered by aMT.