Comparison has been made between the activity of the pineal hormone melatonin, and several analogues and metabolites in inhibiting sexual development in a protein-restricted prepubertal rat model. Eleven melatonin analogues or metabolites were tested with the aim of evaluating the model as a test of the hypothesis that melatonin acts as a prohormone and that the ring schism metabolites (kynurenamines) mediate many of the effects attributable to melatonin. Although the hypothesis could not be confirmed, modification of the melatonin structure by lengthening the acrylamide side chain or by replacing the 5 methoxy function with fluorine resulted in loss of biological potency. Modification of the melatonin structure to block the two known points of metabolism resulted in no significant alteration in biological activity. Thus 6-chloromelatonin (blocking 6-hydroxylation) and 2,3-dihydromelatonin (blocking oxidative cleavage of the C2-C3 bond) and 6-chloro-2,3-dihydromelatonin remained biologically active. The metabolic products of brain indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase, N-acetyl-N2-formyl-5-methoxy kynurenamine (aFoMK) and N-acetyl-5-methoxy kynurenamine (aMK), paradoxically were also biologically active.