Fifteen minute sequential blood sampling of male rats via right atrial cannulae was used to examine the patterns of anterior pituitary hormone secretion following hypothalamic deafferentations. Growth hormone (rGH) profiles from rats with complete hypothalamic deafferentation (CC) showed persistence of episodic rGH secretion with greatly increased frequency and elevated trough values, but without apparent entrainment to the light-dark cycle. Anterior (AC) and posterior (PC) deafferentation had no effect on the normal 3 h periodicity of rGH secretory episodes, but light-dark entrainment was lost in AC rats. Prolactin (rPRL) secretion in CC rats remained at normal low baseline levels without secretory episodes, while in AC and PC rats, as in normal rats, bursts of rPRL secretion occurred, often temporally related to rGH bursts. Thyrotropin (rTSH) levels in CC rats were less variable, and lower than in normal rats, while rTSH secretory profiles appeared normal in AC and PC rats. These results suggest that the isolated medial basal hypothalamus (MBH) contains neural substrates for episodic rGH secretion, and to a lesser extent, for rTSH. It is hypothesized that excessive rGH secretion in CC rats results from surgery damaging the rhythmicity of the rGH releasing factor (GRF) mechanism, so that both sustained secretion and more frequent bursts of GRF occur. An effective rPRL inhibitory mechanism remains intact within complete hypothalamic deafferentations, while episodic rPRL and rTSH secretion require intact lateral afferents to the MBH. Visual pathway connections to the MBH, which mediate light-dark cycle entrainment of episodic rGH secretion, appear to pass through the region of the anterior hypothalamic and suprachiasmatic nuclei.