Effects of long-term antiepileptic therapy on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis were evaluated from the basal and stimulated plasma levels of growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) and from circadian adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)/cortisol rhythms. Data for patients with well-controlled epilepsy of mild-to-moderate severity were compared with those for normal healthy volunteers. Analysis of the effects of each antiepileptic drug (AED) and of combined AEDs revealed minor abnormalities of stimulated GH secretion in all treated patients. In epileptic men, all individual AEDs (except valproate) and AED polytherapy increased both basal and stimulated plasma levels of PRL. In epileptic women, this effect was more variable and less marked, probably because of early depletion of PRL reserves. Each AED and combined AEDs did not significantly change circadian ACTH/cortisol rhythms in epileptic patients. The effects observed seem not to be related to epilepsy per se. Clinical implications, pathways, and neurotransmitters involved and possible mechanisms of the neuroendocrine effects of long-term AED therapy are discussed.