The effect on first ovulation of the massive reduction of the total pool of ovarian follicles during the infantile and late juvenile period was studied in rats. Treatment with an LH-releasing hormone antagonist (LHRH-A) during infancy (5 mg/kg body weight on days 6, 9, 12 and 15 of life) was combined with unilateral ovariectomy performed on either day 15 (early ULO) or 2-5 days before the expected day of first ovulation (late ULO). Rats were killed on the day of first or second oestrus, when blood was collected and the (remaining) ovaries were prepared for differential counting of follicles and corpora lutea. In addition, blood was sampled 8 h after ULO and the ovaries studied histologically in the group of rats which were unilaterally ovariectomized 2-5 days before first ovulation. The time of first ovulation was not influenced by treatment with LHRH-A, early or late ULO, or a combination of LHRH-A treatment and ULO. Ovulation rate after LHRH-A treatment was decreased, but was still within the normal range in intact rats and in early ULO rats compared with saline-treated controls. Serum FSH concentrations 8 h after ULO performed 2-5 days before first ovulation were similar in saline- and LHRH-A-treated rats (845 ± 59 and 801 ± 99 (S.E.M.) μg/l respectively) and had increased compared with intact controls (216 ± 15 μg/l). Treatment with LHRH-A resulted in a reduction of more than 50% in healthy and atretic follicles, and late ULO reduced the number of healthy follicles even further. In saline-treated rats late ULO decreased the rate of atresia, but in LHRH-A-treated rats atresia was not reduced further by (late or early) ULO. It is concluded that even after massive reduction of the pool of ovarian follicles by early LHRH-A treatment combined with late or early ULO, the timing of the first ovulation was normal and ovulation rates, although somewhat lower in some LHRH-A-treated rats, were within the normal range.