Summary. Frequent blood samples were collected to study hormonal responses to GnRH in male and female leopards and tigers. Animals were anaesthetized with ketamine–HCl and blood samples were collected every 5 min for 15 min before and 160 min after i.v. administration of GnRH (1 μg/kg body weight) or saline. No differences in serum cortisol concentrations were observed between sexes within species, but mean cortisol was 2-fold greater in leopards than tigers. GnRH induced a rapid rise in LH in all animals (18·3 ± 0·9 min to peak). Net LH peak height above pretreatment levels was 3-fold greater in males than conspecific females and was also greater in tigers than leopards. Serum FSH increased after GnRH, although the magnitude of response was less than that observed for LH. Basal LH and FSH and GnRH-stimulated FSH concentrations were not influenced by sex or species. Serum testosterone increased within 30–40 min after GnRH in 3/3 leopard and 1/3 tiger males. Basal testosterone was 3-fold greater in tiger than leopard males. LH pulses (1–2 pulses/3 h) were detected in 60% of saline-treated animals, suggesting pulsatile gonadotrophin secretion; however, in males concomitant testosterone pulses were not observed. These results indicate that there are marked sex and species differences in basal and GnRH-stimulated hormonal responses between felids of the genus Panthera which may be related to differences in adrenal activity.