1. Groups of ISA Brown pullets were transferred from 8- to 16-h photoperiods at 34, 44 or 54 d. In each group, 12 birds were injected on alternate days over a 12-d period starting 6 d before the change in photoperiod with β-oestradiol-3-benzoate (1 mg/kg body weight) or with arachis oil vehicle (controls). Short-day controls were similarly injected from 28 to 40 d. Long-day (16 h) controls were also included in the trial but were not injected. Age at first egg (AFE) was recorded and plasma luteinising hormone (LH) concentrations were measured around the time of oestradiol treatment. 2. Mean AFE for birds photostimulated at 34 d was not significantly different from short-day controls. Birds photostimulated at 44 and 54 d matured at similar ages but 3 weeks earlier than short-day controls (P<0.05). 3. There was a tendency for oestradiol to advance AFE for birds photostimulated at 34 d (P=0.15) but to delay AFE following photostimulation at 44 d (P=0.23). Oestradiol significantly delayed AFE for the birds photostimulated at 54 d (P=0.001). 4. Plasma LH levels during 6 d of oestradiol injection but before transfer from 8-to 16-h photoperiods tended to fall between 28 and 34 d, were relatively constant between 38 and 44 d, but declined significantly between 48 and 54 d. Following photostimulation at 34 d, increases in plasma LH levels for oestradiol-injected birds were significantly greater than for controls. Oestradiol treatment had no significant effect on changes in plasma LH concentrations after photostimulation at 44 or 54 d. 5. This trial confirms previous work showing that pullets are unresponsive to photostimulation before 6 weeks of age. It also demonstrates that raising circulating oestrogen levels by injecting 0.5 mg/kg oestradiol benzoate on alternate days enhances the LH response to photostimulation at 34-d, but only very slightly sensitises a 34-d old bird to an increase in photoperiod which, 10 d later, is capable of advancing AFE in control birds by 24 d. Increased circulating oestrogen might be a factor which allows pullets to advance AFE in response to an increase in daylength.