Addition of gonadotropin releasing hormone to cultures of fetal rat pituitary induced differentiation of lactotropes as revealed by immunocytochemistry. Antiserum to luteinizing hormone (LH) (recognizing native LH), but not antiserum to LH-beta (recognizing both native LH and its beta subunit), inhibited this induction. Further addition of highly purified LH-alpha subunit in culture medium also induced lactotrope differentiation. Thus, the alpha subunit may have a specific biological activity of its own with probable practical use in clinical investigations.