The hypothalamic gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) pulse generator governs intermittent discharges of GnRH into the pituitary portal circulation and, consequently, modulates the pulsatile pattern of gonadotrophin secretion. Electrophysiological correlates of pulsatile gonadotrophin secretion have been demonstrated in the mediobasal hypothalamus of monkeys, rats and goats by recording multiple unit activity. A temporal coincidence between characteristic increases in multiple unit activity and gonadotrophin pulses in the circulation is seen under a variety of physiological and experimental conditions in all three species examined, providing evidence that hypothalamic multiple unit activity originates in the GnRH pulse generator. During a preovulatory gonadotrophin surge induced by oestrogen in ovariectomized animals or occurring spontaneously in intact animals, GnRH pulse generator activity is decelerated, suggesting that it is not involved in generating the gonadotrophin surge. The gonadotrophin surge may be generated by an oestrogen-responsive neuronal complex intrinsically different from the GnRH pulse generator, the electrical operation of which remains unknown.