The glucose-dependent secretion of the neuropeptides, growth hormone-releasing factor (GRF) and somatostatin (SRIF), by hypothalamic fragments was studied in vitro using a superfusion system. After equilibration of mediobasal hypothalami in HEPES-buffered Krebs-Ringer solution containing 5.5 mM glucose, glucose levels in the superfusion medium were altered. Lowering the glucose concentration in the medium from 5.5 to 2.7 or 1.1 mM provoked a rapid increase in GRF and SRIF release in a concentration and Ca2+-dependent manner. At 1.1 mM glucose, neuropeptide secretion was elevated 3- to 4-fold. The increase of GRF and SRIF release induced by low glucose was transient since stimulated neuropeptide secretion declined to basal levels in the continued presence of low glucose. Furthermore, after reequilibration in 5.5 mM glucose, no second stimulation of neuropeptide release could be induced by reduced glucose. Intracellular glucopenia induced by addition of 2-deoxy-D-glucose (16.5 mM) to the superfusion medium containing 5.5 mM glucose, also evoked increases in GRF and SRIF release. The sensitivity of GRF and SRIF neurons to glucose was absent in the postnatal period until day 9 after birth and then gradually increased. The parallel increases of GRF and SRIF release in response to low glucose observed in the present in vitro study, together with the suppression of plasma GH levels occurring in hypoglycemia in the rat, suggest that, in this condition, the inhibition of GH release induced by elevated SRIF levels predominates whereas the increase of GRF release might serve to attenuate this effect of SRIF.