Recent studies have shown that the anterior pituitary hormone prolactin, together with various cytokines, plays an important role in maintaining normal immune responses. Although there is evidence that prolactin may be a significant immunotropic hormone that can counteract the immunosuppressive effects of drugs such as cyclosporine, morphine, or glucocorticoids, it remains unknown whether prolactin administration has any salutary effects on the depressed immune responses following severe hemorrhage. To study this, mice were bled to and maintained at a mean arterial pressure of 35 mm Hg for 60 min, then adequately resuscitated and segregated into two groups. One group received saline-vehicle (hem-SS); animals in the other group were treated with prolactin (hem-PRL) (100 μg per 25 g BW, subcutaneously) immediately before resuscitation. Two hours following saline or prolactin injection, splenocytes (SPL) were harvested and assessed for proliferative capacity (PC) and their ability to release IL-2 and IL-3. Supernatant lymphokine levels were determined by bioassay. The proliferative capacity of the splenocytes, as well as their ability to release IL-2 and IL-3, was significantly depressed in the vehicle-treated hemorrhaged animals, compared to shams. Treatment with prolactin restored the depressed splenocyte functions seen after severe hemorrhage. These results support the notion that the immunosuppression following hemorrhage and trauma may be mediated by hormones from the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Furthermore, our results suggest that the use of prolactin, which did not produce any adverse hemodynamic effects, represents a novel and safe immunomodulating hormone for the treatment of immunodepression following severe blood loss.