Maternal deprivation was associated with a decline in immunoreactive growth hormone in the serum of rat pups. Pups that were returned to the mother showed a rapid reversal in this deprivation-induced decrease. The change in growth hormone concentration was not accompanied by changes in the concentrations of prolactin, thyrotropin, or corticosterone in the serum, but were correlated with alteration in the activity of ornithine decarboxylase in the brain. Treatment of neonatal rat pups with cyprohepatadine, a serotonin antagonist that suppresses growth hormone secretion, resulted in a significant decline in both serum growth hormone concentration and brain ornithine decarboxylase activity. These findings suggest that maternal deprivation elicits a specific suppression of growth hormone release which mediates the decrease in ornithine decarboxylase activity. The study is consistent with clinical findings of impaired growth hormone "responsitivity" in human maternal deprivation syndrome.