Post-mortem concentrations of estradiol and testosterone were measured in 17 brain areas, serum and fat in 6 fertile and 5 postmenopausal women. Steroid concentrations were measured with radioimmunoassay after extraction of brain tissue with ethanol and purification with celite chromatography. There were regional differences in brain concentrations of both steroids. The highest levels of estradiol and testosterone were noted in the hypothalamus, preoptic area and substantia nigra. These findings may assist in the interpretation of functional animal studies where the hypothalamus-preoptic area and the nigrostriatal dopamine system have proved to be target areas for estradiol. When compared to postmenopausal women, estradiol concentrations were significantly higher in the brains of fertile women, which indicates that peripheral serum levels of estradiol are reflected in the brain. This study has yielded information about steroid levels in different endocrine states and could provide a frame of reference for studies of estradiol and testosterone mediated effects on the central nervous system.