After binding to rat testicular or ovarian luteinizing hormone (LH) receptors, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and mammalian LH can be detected with monoclonal antibodies directed against a conserved epitope on the beta subunit of the hormones. Two such anti-hCG/anti-LH monoclonal antibodies, known as B105 and B110, compete with one another for binding to this epitope region on free and receptor-bound hormone. By comparing the affinities of B105 and B110 for these two forms of hCG, we have detected apparent changes in the structure of the hormone which develop subsequent to receptor binding. Whereas the affinity of B105 for receptor-bound hCG is approximately 10-fold lower than that for free hCG, the affinity of B110 for receptor-bound hCG is nearly 20-fold greater than that for free hCG. Both B105.hCG and B110.hCG complexes bind to the receptor; however, they have approximately 25 and 50% lower affinity than hCG. Thus, although B110 binds better to the form of hCG which is bound to receptors, binding of B110 to hCG does not appear to induce a conformational change in the hormone which facilitates hormone-receptor binding. Consequently, both B105 and B110 partially inhibit binding of hCG to its receptors. Fab fragments of B105 and B110 are as effective as intact B105 and B110 in inhibiting the binding of labeled B105 and B110 to hCG-receptor complexes, suggesting that circular complexes which might be formed by the interaction of divalent antibody, two molecules of hCG, and two membrane-bound receptors or one divalent receptor are not contributing to the affinity of the antibodies for receptor-bound hCG. Alternatively, formation of circular complexes can explain an increase in apparent affinity of B105 for ovine or bovine LH-receptor complexes. Data obtained with B105 suggest either that the structure of the epitope is altered following binding or that a portion of the epitope is partially obscured when hCG binds to the receptor. In contrast, the data obtained using B110 are not explained by models in which steric factors reduce the affinity of the antibody for the hormone-receptor complex. Therefore, as a minimal explanation for these observations, we postulate that the conformation of the B105/B110 epitope region is altered following binding of the hormone to receptors. The nature of the conformational change and its relationship to LH/hCG action is unknown.