It has been inferred that ethanol suppresses the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the male by depressing the release of LH-releasing hormone (LH-RH) from the hypothalamus. Direct support for this inference has been difficult to obtain, however, because of significant technical difficulties in measuring LH-RH release under in vivo conditions. To circumvent these problems, we made use of the opiate antagonist naloxone, as a neuroendocrine probe, to elicit the release of LH-RH under in vivo conditions. We found that ethanol was a potent suppressor of the increase in serum LH levels evoked by naloxone at extremely low blood ethanol concentrations (<60 mg/dl). Furthermore, we observed that the antagonism between ethanol and naloxone appeared to be competitive in nature since a fixed dose of ethanol (1 g/kg, blood ethanol concentration 60 mg/dl) shifted the naloxone dose-response curve significantly to the right and high doses of the antagonist overcame ethanol's effects. Finally, we found that the interaction between ethanol and naloxone took place at the level of the hypothalamus. Our results, therefore, seem to provide the first in vivo evidence supporting the widely-held hypothesis that ethanol reduces serum LH levels by depressing the hypothalamically-mediated release of LH-RH. The mechanisms underlying ethanol's depression of naloxone-induced increases in the release of LH-RH are not fully understood at this time, but one prominent possibility is that ethanol enhances the synthesis or release of endogenous opioids which in turn override naloxone's effects.