The effect of a single dose (60 mg p.o) of the serotonin agonistic agent fenfluramine (FNF) on plasma cortisol, prolactin (PRL), growth hormone (GH), and immunoreactive β-endorphin (ir-β-EP) levels was assessed in eight major depressed patients and eight controls. The hormones were monitored at basal level (0') and hourly during 5 h following FNF administration. The pharmacological challenge caused an elevation of 80% in PRL secretion in the healthy controls and only 42% in the depressed patients. However, the actual prolactin response (Δmax) failed to discriminate depressed patients from controls. A blunted response followed by a decrease (33%) in serum cortisol levels was observed in depressed patients 5 h after drug administration while an increase of 94% was obtained in controls after 3 h. FNF provocation did not affect GH and ir-β-EP plasma levels. The blunted cortisol responsiveness to FNF administration in depressed patients may reflect functional hypoactivity of central serotonergic system at least during the acute phase of major depression. It is not clear why the cortisol hyporesponsivity in depressed patients is not accompanied by similar reduced PRL response to FNF challenge.