Chicken gonadotropin-releasing hormone-I (GnRH-1) and the avian prolactin-releasing hormone, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), were measured in the basal hypothalamus in male starlings during photo-induced gonadal growth and the subsequent development and maintenance of reproductive photorefractoriness. Comparisons were made with thyroidectomized birds, which maintain breeding condition irrespective of changes in photoperiod. In intact birds, basal hypothalamic GnRH-1 increased four-fold after photostimulation and then decreased 115-fold over 12 weeks to values characteristic of long-term photorefractoriness. Pituitary and plasma prolactin increased after photostimulation, reaching peak values when the testes were regressing, and returned to low values in long-term photorefractory birds. Basal hypothalamic VIP did not change after photostimulation in intact birds. In photostimulated thyroidectomized birds, values for basal hypothalamic GnRH-1 and VIP, and for pituitary and plasma prolactin, remained no different to those of nonphotostimulated intact birds. These observations confirm that reproductive photorefractoriness is related to a decrease in hypothalamic GnRH-I. However, photorefractoriness in terms of prolactin secretion is not similarly related to a decrease in basal hypothalamic VIP. The mechanisms responsible for the decrease in prolactin in long-term photorefractory birds and for the total lack of photoperiodic responses in thyroidectomized birds remain unresolved.