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The isolation and identification of a prolactin-releasing factor (PRF) from the neuro-intermediate lobe of the pituitary gland has been pursued for over a decade. Using high-pressure liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection (HPLC-ECD) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) (R)-salsolinol (SAL) (a dopamine-related stereo-specific tetrahydroisoquinoline) was found to be present in neuro-intermediate lobe as well as median eminence extracts of male, intact-, and ovariectomized female rats. Moreover, analysis of SAL concentrations in neuro-intermediate lobe revealed parallel increases with plasma prolactin in lactating rats exposed to a brief (10 min) suckling stimulus following 4-h separation. SAL appears to be a selective and potent stimulator of prolactin secretion in vivo and it was without effect on the secretion of other pituitary hormones. We have also found that SAL can elevate prolactin release, although to a lesser extent, in pituitary cell cultures as well as in hypophysectomized rats bearing anterior lobe transplants under the kidney capsule. Lack of interference of SAL with [3H]-spiperone binding to AP homogenates indicates that SAL does not act at the dopamine D2 receptor. Moreover, [3H]-SAL binds specifically to homogenate of AL as well as neuro-intermediate lobe obtained from lactating rats. Taken together, our data clearly suggest that SAL is synthesized in situ and this compound can play a role in the regulation of pituitary prolactin secretion.