In mature Merino rams, nutrition is one of the external cues that most strongly affects the reproductive centres of the preoptic-hypothalamic continuum. The signalling pathways that link dietary status and the activity of the neurones that produce gonadotrophin-releasing hormone signals are thought to be partly hormonal in nature to reflect the amount of body reserves. Among the hormones thought to be involved are insulin and leptin. This study tested whether recombinant bovine leptin infused (0.4 μg/h) into the third cerebral ventricle would stimulate pulsatile luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion in mature Merino rams when their energy status was low or decreasing, during both chronic (fasting) and acute reductions of energy balance. Leptin may interact with other hormones that depend on energy availability, so we also monitored changes in circulating concentrations of insulin, thyroid hormones, growth hormone, prolactin and adrenocorticotrophin. Overall, our data do not support this hypothesis. The dietary regimes induced clear responses in the metabolic profiles of the animals but there was no clear effect of central leptin administration on LH pulse frequency. The relationships between the hormonal systems measured in the present study add weight to the contention that leptin plays only a permissive role in the nutritional control of the reproductive axis and that other hormonal signals (particularly insulin) or pathways are acting in concert with leptin to stimulate the reproductive axis.