Melatonin inhibits GnRH-induced release of LH and FSH from the neonatal, but not the adult, rat anterior pituitary gland. This action of melatonin is mediated by the specific high-affinity membrane-bound receptors that are absent in adult rats. The intracellular mechanism of melatonin action involves a decrease in intracellular calcium [Ca2+]i in the gonadotrophs; melatonin inhibits GnRH-induced Ca2+ release from endoplasmic reticulum as well as Ca2+ influx through voltage-sensitive channels. Melatonin also inhibits GnRH-induced accumulation of cAMP, which may result in the decreased influx of Ca2+, because cAMP, acting through protein kinase A, stimulates Ca2+ influx into the gonadotrophs. This age-dependent effect of melatonin on gonadotrophin release from the pituitary may be involved in the timing of puberty.