In an investigation of cortisol secretion in fully mature, ovariectomized cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis), we compared monkeys that were given either placebo (OVX, n = 26) or 17beta estradiol (E(2 )) (EST, n = 26) in a daily oral dose. Serum cortisol concentrations were measured prior to the experimental manipulation and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months following initiation of treatment. Pretreatment cortisol values did not differ between groups. Assessment of the treatment period values revealed that cortisol concentrations were significantly higher ( approximately 10%) in the EST than in the OVX monkeys. Cortisol also varied significantly across periods of sampling. This time-dependent variation was attributable to elevations in months 6 and 9 (when daylight was generally long), relative to months 3 and 12 (when daylight was relatively short). The modest stimulatory effect of estrogen on corticosteroid production observed in this study is consistent with what has been seen in women, and contrasts with the more robust effects observed in New World monkeys. The possible relationship between season and cortisol secretion observed here has not been previously described in monkeys.