Hypothyroidism in the human female is often associated with ovarian follicular cysts and hyperandrogenism, two cardinal signs of polycystic ovary syndrome. To explore the intraovarian changes that lead to follicular cyst formation in hypothyroidism, we have created a prepubertal hypothyroid rat model. These hypothyroid rats are hyperandrogenic and develop transient ovarian follicular cysts. Hypothyroidism in newborn rats was induced by providing the lactating dams with 0.04% propylthiouracil (PTU)-containing water. Subsequently, female rats were weaned and kept on PTU-containing water. On Day 25 of age, the rats were primed with 15 international units of pregnant mare's serum gonadotropin (PMSG) in 100 μl of phosphate buffered saline. Two days later, to initiate pseudopregnancy, they were injected with five international units of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The animals were sacrificed at appropriate times, and blood and ovaries were collected for analyses. Control experiments were done with euthyroid rats. Two days after PMSG injection, well-developed antral follicles were observed in both the hypothyroid and euthyroid rats. Two days after hCG injection, while the euthyroid rat ovaries, as expected, contained numerous corpora lutea (CL), the hypothyroid rat ovaries still retained antral follicles. Some of these follicles with degenerating oocytes showed signs of luteinization. By 3-4 days post-hCG injection, the hypothyroid rat ovaries developed cystic follicles. By Day 6, however, the hypothyroid rat ovaries were indistinguishable from those of the euthyroid rats. Although serum testosterone concentrations were significantly elevated in the hypothyroid rats on Days 1-3, progesterone concentrations were not significantly different from the euthyroid animals. However, by Days 8-14, the hypothyroid rats had significantly higher serum progesterone concentrations. This model will be useful for investigating the intraovarian biochemical changes that lead to follicular cyst development in response to acute gonadotropin treatment.