Pituitary-adrenal, pituitary-gonadal and prolactin responses to acute stress (restraint) were studied in peripuberal and adult male rats. The pituitary-adrenal response to restraint stress did not differ in peripuberal and adult rats. Prolactin increase during stress was less marked in peripuberal animals. While an increase in LH during stress was observed in adult rats, peripuberal animals did not respond to stress. Testosterone levels were also lower in peripuberal than in adult rats. Diminished LH and prolactin responses to stress in peripuberal rats did not appear to be due either to increased pituitary-adrenal activity or to altered pituitary responsiveness to LHRH and dopamine respectively. Peripuberal rats were also more sensitive to the action of morphine on LH and prolactin release than were adult rats, suggesting that endogenous opioids may be involved in the LH and prolactin responses to acute stress. Differences in the maturation of central mechanisms rather than in pituitary response appear to be responsible for the differing responses to acute stress.