Sixteen virgin Holstein heifers were used to study the role of oxytocin in luteal function. Oxytocin (100 i.u.) was administered on Days 2-5 (Exp. 1) or Days 2-6 (Exp. 2), and the corpora lutea were collected and weighed on Day 6 or Day 8, respectively. Plasma progesterone values and tissue concentrations of progesterone and oxytocin were determined by radioimmunoassay. In addition, the tissue level of the oxytocin-specific transcript was measured by dot-blot hybridization. Expression of the oxytocin-specific transcript was not affected by oxytocin treatment in either experiment. In contrast, plasma progesterone values and tissue progesterone and oxytocin concentrations were all decreased after 5 days of oxytocin treatment (Exp. 2), but not after 4 days (Exp. 1). Since oxytocin concentrations were reduced while the level of its transcript remained unaffected, oxytocin injections might be influencing either peptide processing or release.